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Illinois Is Entering Its Second Year Without A Budget

By aaroncynic in News on Jun 1, 2016 2:43PM

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner speaks at an event in Springfield in May. Photo by Aaron Cynic

The Illinois budget impasse will predictably continue into its second year, as Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders failed to come to an agreement before the end of the spring legislative session.

Both Rauner and the state Democrats have harsh words to blame the opposite party for the failure to come to an agreement—with another war of theatrical words that has changed little in a year.

“The Democrats have spent our state in the toilet for 30 years. We’re like a banana republic,” Rauner said in an early evening press conference Tuesday. Flanked by Republican legislators on the interior steps of the Capitol Rotunda, the governor berated his current arch nemesis House Speaker Michael Madigan and Democratic legislators for a “stunning failure.”

“We have to stop spendin’ money we don’t have. Stop it now,” said Rauner.

Rauner and his Republican allies gave Democrats an ultimatum: to pass a stopgap budget his office proposed that would keep money flowing to various state services in desperate need of cash for six months, just long enough to get through the November general election. He also proposed a separate piece of legislation to fund schools to make certain they open on time. His administration did not immediately provide an estimate of the total cost.

“We have 6 hours left before we conclude this legislative session...” said Illinois Republican Leader Jim Durkin. “It’s time to smooth this out, reconcile with the Democrats, pass out of chambers by the end of the night.”

Earlier in the day, Madigan said he had no intention of passing Rauner’s deal. “This is not something that's going to happen today," Madigan said, according to the Tribune. "It's going to be sent off to the budget working group.”

The only two notable differences between this latest spat between Rauner and Madigan are that, according to Durkin, none of Rauner’s ‘Turnaround’ agenda—which has been at the real core of the impasse was attached to the legislation. That, and the fact that the tables were slightly turned, with Democrats rejecting a budget proposal when it’s Rauner who usually rejects them.

Rauner’s move to try to force blame on Democrats for not passing a stopgap proposal to fund social services is a political move that may well end up falling flat with anyone who has a decent memory of the past year. As far back as September of 2015, a Rauner aide called a stopgap measure proposed by Democrats to fund beleaguered social services at the time “the same cynical attempt to stick the taxpayers of Illinois with a massive tax hike without reform.” Rauner has also regularly rejected any budget proposals from Democrats that are out of balance.

“I will always veto our balanced budgets. I will not sign one,” Rauner said on Tuesday.

Though no ‘Turnaround’ agenda items were in his stopgap measure, it’s obvious the move is to attempt to keep the agenda and his allies alive through the November general election. And while he’s attempted to flip the script on Democrats by saying they’re the ones holding the budget hostage, he’s also been completely unwilling to pass any needed revenue options until they’re willing to pass his agenda.

Representative Kelly Cassidy accused the Republicans of backdoor shenanigans. Writing on her Facebook profile, Cassidy said that Republicans about-faced on working with Democrats on a deal, and used that to try to give them the legislative ultimatum which could be unconstitutional.

“The Republican leader theatrically introduced new bills with stopgap budget language, declaring that we could stay until midnight and pass this compromise,” wrote Cassidy. “Except under our constitution, a bill has to be read on 3 different days, so that's not possible.”