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Illinois Senate Vows Swift Action On Ambitious Budget Plan

FLICKR User Jim Bowen

Illinois Senate leaders are hoping to move swiftly on their pledge to advance a state-budget compromise by month's end.

The Democratic-controlled chamber has assigned 13 pieces of legislation for committee hearings that aim to break the two-year budget deadlock between legislative Democrats and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The proposals include an income tax increase and a hike in the minimum wage, but also attempt to satisfy Rauner's pro-business agenda with a property-tax freeze and restrictions on workers' compensation awards.

The deal was negotiated between Democratic Senate President John Cullerton and Republican Leader Christine Radogno. They wanted to make a splash by getting Senate approval before the last General Assembly's session expired.

But Radogno had trouble convincing her GOP members to rush a vote.

Radogno promised to have Senate action before Feb. 1.

Meanwhile, State Senator Scott Bennett says Democrats in his chamber supported a rules change last week to impose term limits on Senate legislative leaders as a show of good faith.

The Champaign Democrat says they’re showing their commitment to imposing the ten-year term limits on leaders in both legislative chamber, as part of a state budget package.

Bennett thinks term limits for legislative leaders will appeal to Governor Bruce Rauner, who has called for term limits for all state lawmakers. 

“What the term limits really is about, at least what I hear from constituents is, we just want to see some change in leadership,” Bennett said. “They don’t necessarily want to lose their own state representative or state senator, because that’s what every election, they get a chance to decide if they like that individual or not.”

The proposal in the Senate budget package would impose the term limits by an amendment to the state constitution, which would be harder to change than the Senate rule passed last week. The limits would cover the House Speaker, Senate President and both chambers’ Minority Leaders. But they would NOT be retro-active, so current legislative leaders could still serve another ten years.

Senators took no action on their compromise budget bills last week, but Bennett says they could get a hearing when lawmakers return to Springfield next week.

  • The Associated Press and Jim Meadows contributed to this report.
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