Republican and Democrat legislative leaders met with the Governor this week to discuss the potential for compromise on the budget and reform proposals. As the state quickly approaches what would be a full fiscal year without a budget, some Democrat legislative leaders have indicated a balanced budget may never be approved.
The meeting of the leaders and the Governor occurred after a dedicated group of legislators presented a budget framework to the leadership that included spending cuts, government reforms, and potential revenue increases.
However, that proposal is seemingly dead in the water after remarks made by House Speaker Michael Madigan, who implied many Democrat lawmakers would find $5.4 billion in tax increases “inadequate.” Madigan has consistently panned reform efforts, instead pushing for tax hikes. While Senate Republican lawmakers have acknowledged a willingness to discuss additional revenues, they have maintained that they won’t consider any revenue enhancements without good government reforms to create jobs, reduce bureaucracy, and target waste and fraud in government.
Senator Bill Brady(R-Bloomington) said, "While I am open to considering short-term revenue enhancements, they must be coupled with the passage of reforms that will stem economic growth. We cannot raise taxes. A tax hike which will place a large burden on small businesses and middle class families."
The closed-door meeting allowed the legislative leaders to discuss difficult topics facing the state. At the conclusion of the meeting, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) noted that while she was hopeful that a compromise can be negotiated prior to the scheduled May 31 legislative adjournment date, she was skeptical that Speaker Madigan was truly willing to accept any of the good government reform proposals the Governor and Republican lawmakers say must be part of a budget compromise.
Her skepticism was legitimized with the Speaker’s press release shortly after the meeting in which he once again stated that reforming Illinois is not a priority that should be connected to the budget.