Published: Sat, March 04, 2017
National | By Glenda Ortiz

Illinois Senate Hits Snag on Grand Bargain

Illinois Senate Hits Snag on Grand Bargain

The Senate had been scheduled to continue voting on a package of legislation negotiated by Senate President John Cullerton and Republican Leader Christine Radogno in an effort to end Illinois' 20-month budget stalemate.

"I don't think it's the Senate Republicans who want to drive a hard bargain", said the Chicago Democrat. That made him just the sort of Republican that Democrats say the governor was targeting.

Radogno, who Cullerton said had initiated the "grand bargain" discussions a year ago, said that "I have no question in my mind that we're going to bring this thing in for a landing".

But a Senate Democrat filed legislation Thursday spelling out services that could be subject to the state sales tax to battle a budget deficit. "Together, we can make IL more competitive and more compassionate".

The "new way forward" Harris referred to is the inclusion of substantial increases in existing taxes such as the sales and personal income tax and the introduction of new taxes into what is being called the "grand bargain". "We can make the necessary changes to fix our broken system". It lost despite Cullerton's appeal to Republicans that it has Rauner's backing.

The "grand bargain" may only be temporarily derailed; both Cullerton and Radogno afterward committed to continued negotiations.

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"To a person, the people that I have spoken with have been sincere, honest, willing to compromise. With that kind of attitude in this chamber I have no question in my mind that we're going to bring this thing in for a landing", Radogno said on the Senate floor before the chamber concluded its business.

"If we can not get it out of the Senate, then we are literally running down the clock and admitting that it's okay with people to not have a budget until 2018 and that is just unconscionable", said Sen. "My only hope is that it's sooner rather than later".

"The governor's got to realize that this is as good as it's going to get", Cullerton told reporters Wednesday. "He will be happy to share his opinion, but I think that's a complete mischaracterization".

The grand bargain received hesitant bipartisan support and apparent encouragement from Gov. Bruce Rauner, who lauded senators for their work on it during his annual budget address earlier this month.

"The fact that the Senate Republicans didn't have the courage to vote tonight on grand bargain budget bills is cowardly and shows that they're not serious about getting us out of our budget impasse", Sen. But he says he's gotten as much support as he can from members of his caucus on some bills, and bipartisan votes will be required if it's to succeed. Iris Martinez, D-Chicago, said.

Up until this point, both Rauner and Madigan have been largely left out of budget talks because of the bitterness that has come to define their almost two-year standoff. That would leave a $24 billion backlog for Illinois' next governor.

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