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Illinois Democrats Introduce Budget Plan; Republicans Bristle At Cell Phone Fee Demand

Illinois Democrats took another step in budget negotiations Tuesday, proposing a spending plan for state government.

House Speaker Michael Madigan acknowledged it won’t meet every request of Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“But I think that it goes a long way toward giving the state of Illinois a good solid spending plan that responds to the real needs of the state," he said, "and, significantly, is below the level of the governor’s introduced budget."

Democrats say their plan wouldn’t create any new programs, but it would direct money away from some of Rauner’s priorities, like modernizing state computers, to shore up social services. However, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin criticized a demand by Madigan for Rauner to sign off on a bill to let Chicago raise cell-phone fees.

“Three-and-a-half days out before the close of the fiscal year, and new demands from the speaker over-complicates closure to this process," Durkin said. 

If Chicago raises the fees, the money would be used to pay for 911 services. The bill also extends funding for downstate 911 centers and would let AT&T phase out traditional landline telephone service.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.