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Budget Negotiations Continue; Both Sides Wonder If It Will Be Enough

Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate in Springfield as Illinois approaches the end of two years without a budget. Both sides are narrowing their focus.

Republicans are emphasizing three issues: lowering the cost of workers’ compensation; cutting state pensions; and freezing property taxes.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said that, if Democrats try to water down changes in those areas, he’ll have a hard time winning support for a budget deal.

“I need to sell it to my caucus," Durkin said. "Our caucus is not about just a budget; they want to see change in Illinois."

Meanwhile, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan said his Republican counterparts also will have to bring Gov. Bruce Rauner along.

“The responsibility will lie upon the Republican leaders to take the positions that will be negotiated between the Democratic designees and the Republicans, to take those positions to the governor, and persuade the governor to be reasonable,” Madigan said.

Rauner has made passage of his political and economic agenda a prerequisite for negotiating a balanced budget. Democrats say Rauner has been holding the budget “hostage” with these conditions, but the governor counters that his agenda is necessary to improve business confidence in Illinois.

Today, House Democrats plan to present their own version of a property-tax freeze in the Revenue and Finance Committee. Durkin says he's willing to agree to a four-year freeze on property taxes in exchange for a four-year temporary income tax increase.

  • The Associated Press contributed to this report.