SPRINGFIELD — Another day in Springfield passed Tuesday without a visible inch of movement in the deadlock between Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative Democrats.
The Republican governor Tuesday afternoon decried a pair of House votes and a full-Senate hearing as “a waste of time.”
“That’s not a sincere focus on the issue of turning our state around and getting an agenda passed to get the state going in the right direction,” Rauner said.
In the meantime, the two sides continue to stress different sets of priorities.
Rauner remains steadfast that the state needs five structural reforms he says are vital to making Illinois livable for taxpayers and attractive to businesses:
• A property tax freeze coupled with greater local control over collective bargaining, and elimination of the prevailing wage act for local government projects.
• Reform of the workers compensation system, most notably in terms of causation, or what makes an injury a workers comp-eligible injury.
• Civil lawsuit reform.
• Ballot questions on two constitutional questions: Term limits for elected state officials and establishment of an independent legislative redistricting commission.
Democrats, including the powerful speaker of the House, Michael Madigan of Chicago, continue to say the No. 1 problem facing the state is the budget deficit.
They argue Rauner is acting in the extreme by making his demands for change a precondition for talks on the budget for the coming fiscal year, which is in three weeks.
And both sides continue to say they best represent the middle class.
“I feel both Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature view these (non-budget) issue as reducing the wage levels in the state and reducing the standard of living in the state, and they will force injured workers onto welfare and into the emergency room,” Madigan said in a Tuesday news conference.
Here is a video link to Tuesday's work in Springfield.
The governor paints Democrats led by Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, as protective of a status quo that is crushing taxpayers in favor of people who make their living from state government: career politicians, public-sector labor, lobbyists, lawmakers and special interests.
“It’s the insiders,” said Rauner in his own news conference. “It’s the political class against the the working families, homeowners and small business of the state of Illinois.”
In the meantime, the state has no budget and could be facing partial shutdown of government services come July 1.
Democrats sent Rauner a roughly $36 billion spending plan, which is $3 billion to $4 billion bigger than estimated revenue.
While Democrats say they’re willing to work with Rauner and the GOP on new revenues, Rauner says without fundamental change, he’s not willing to consider any tax increases.
“Having no real reform and then declaring victory? That’s how we got in the mess we’re in,” the governor said.
In the House
The House on Tuesday took up two bills, the first sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, and the second by State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion.
Franks’ measure, House Bill 690, would freeze most property taxes collectible by local governments at 2015 levels payable in 2016. It fell 30 votes short of the 71 needed for passage.
Bradley’s bill, HB 691, was another challenge to Republicans, and he said it was identical to the Republican governor’s proposal of May 22.
“This is an opportunity and an offer for compromise,” Bradley said. “This is identical to the proposal that has been put forth.”
Republicans scolded Bradley and fellow Democrats, saying the ruse was that Democrats themselves didn’t support and had no intention of passing their own amendment to make the bill actually include the governor’s terms.
“It is a shame we that we continue to perpetuate this gamesmanship and use this time so unwisely,” said Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downer’s Grove.
Bradley’s bill also fell far short of passage.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said there’s still time to avert a budgetless July.
“We need to get back to negotiations — that’s the governor and the four (legislative) leaders,” Durkin said. “I make that formal request: Mr. Speaker, let’s get back to the table.”
Mark Fitton is a reporter for Illinois News Network, a division of the Illinois Policy Institute.