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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Senate Democrats Will Go Forward With 'Grand Bargain'

State of Illinois

Illinois Senate Democrats have scheduled votes for measures in the so-called "grand bargain'' budget compromise.

Assistant Majority Leader Donne Trotter of Chicago says the Senate will call each piece of legislation in the plan for votes on Wednesday. He says time is running out to agree to the state's first budget in two years.  The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn May 31.

The grand bargain is a package of bills Republicans and Democrats have negotiated since January. They address a multibillion-dollar deficit with an income-tax increase and also respond to GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner's demands for cost savings in workers' compensation and a property-tax freeze.

The plan was that none of the bills would take effect unless all were approved.

Trotter says the Senate needs to know where the votes are for agreeing to a budget. So each bill will stand alone. Even bills that have passed were recalled Tuesday to be voted on again as stand-alone measures.

Patty Schuh, a spokeswoman for Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont, says Radogno remains hopeful negotiations can continue.

Earlier, top Illinois House Democrats publicly asked Rauner why he won't meet with them on state budget matters with just two weeks left in the spring legislative session.  

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie of Chicago and three other Democrats wrote Rauner last week offering to discuss an agreement on the first full-year Illinois budget since 2015.

Currie said they’re willing to take up Rauner’s goal of improving the state’s economy, but they’ve got very different ideas about how to do that.

“A healthy economy needs more than just cutting workers’ comp benefits," she said. "We need to help lift up the middle class.”

The thing is, Currie’s Democratic proposals don’t fit Rauner’s Republican agenda.

She notes that House Democrats are willing to discuss Rauner's demands for workers' compensation restrictions and a property-tax freeze. Rauner has demanded those and other changes before agreeing to a budget plan since 2015.

Rauner said at a separate event that Democrats are trying to "create a distraction" to the Senate's attempts at compromise.

  • Brian Mackey and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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