Springfield Standoff: Lawmakers Weigh In on Budget Stalemate

Illinois legislative leaders and Gov. Bruce Rauner met over the weekend to move budget negotiations forward, but both sides seemed to dig in further to their entrenched sides.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says Democrats aren’t committed to an immediate resolution. “The tactic here is to stall, stall, stall, create a crisis and then force the state into another stopgap budget,” Radogno said Sunday. 

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House Speaker Michael Madigan said the purpose of the meetings was to discuss the budget – which was only discussed for 14 minutes of the 90-minute meeting. He and State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who was also in the meetings, expressed concerns about the financial implications of future block grants for Medicaid under the Trump administration among other issues, and how these things could impact the budget. 

The state’s deficit is projected to reach $10 billion by July. So lawmakers need to find more revenue or come up with more cuts to deal with the enormous deficit. However, State Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Round Lake Beach) sponsored House Resolution 1494 against a lame duck session tax increase. The nonbinding referendum passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 87-12. 

“We have such a broken tax system we need to look at an overhaul,” said Yingling. “My constituents have insane property tax bills. The property tax system is regressive and abusive. So, we can’t just look at income tax.” 

Lawmakers, however, found time during the fall veto session to bail out profitable ComEd and parent company Exelon to keep open two nuclear power plants near the Quad Cities. Rauner is expected to sign the $235 million rate hike Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, Rauner vetoed a $215 million CPS teacher pension funding bill. The Illinois Senate immediately passed an override, but the House had difficulties mustering enough votes to override during session. It’s unclear if Madigan can round up 71 votes for the override within 15 days.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and lawmakers question the optics of passing a $235 million utility bailout while cutting aid to Chicago Public Schools at the same time.

“Instead of addressing the crisis that’s impacting kids, seniors, the disabled and more, they bail out one of the most profitable utilities in the country? It’s a horrific decision,” said Yingling. 

Yingling joins State Rep. David McSweeney and host Carol Marin to discuss the budget stalemate, the controversial ComEd bailout and the governor’s veto of CPS pension relief.

Related stories:

Rauner Defends Support of Exelon Bill, Veto of CPS Funds

Dec. 2: Speaking before a group that opposed the recent bill to raise electric rates and bail out two failing nuclear plants, Gov. Bruce Rauner explained why he supported it.

Rauner Vetoes $215 Million CPS Pension Funding

Dec. 1: Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed legislation that would have provided Chicago Public Schools with $215 million in pension relief funding, blowing a massive hole in the district’s 2017 budget.

State Lawmakers Pass Nuclear Plant ‘Bailout’

Dec. 1: After a long debate, a last-minute push to bail out two downstate nuclear plants passed the Illinois General Assembly late Thursday at the tail end of the veto session.

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