Mixed Optimism On Budget After Illinois Legislative Leaders Meeting

Jun 29, 2016

Credit state of Illinois

  Illinois lawmakers left Springfield a month ago fractured, indignant and without a budget. They'll return this morning for another try at a compromise.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislature's four top leaders met fairly often toward the end of May, when they were supposed to have passed a new state budget.

But the meetings were short, often taking less than an hour. And the leaders comments after were often curt.

Compare that with Tuesday night, when leaders met for three hours.

After that meeting, House Speaker Michael Madigan said he was "optimistic" they can settle a "whole host of problems."

"It appears to me that everybody in the negotiations are negotiating in good faith. There are a lot of proposals on the table. A lot of good ideas," he said.

There are a series of competing proposals for a temporary, six month state budget and a full year measure for schools.

The main sticking point appears to be education spending. Democrats want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to help Chicago Public Schools, but Rauner says he won't go for a CPS bailout. The governor made no comment after the meeting.

Still, Senate President John Cullerton said he's "excited" they're "this close" to a deal.

He called the negotiations "healthy" but “fluid” and House GOP Leader Christine Radogno warned "caution is always in order."

"We're taking a very global perspective of the budget, and we're looking at a lot of things. So again I don't think we want to get into any specific area that's currently under negotiation but we've made progress," , said House Minority Leader Jim Durkin.  

None of the leaders offered specifics, but they're scheduled to meet again this morning.