Speaker Madigan Names Lawmakers To Work With Rauner On Non-Budget Agenda Items

CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is publicly making an offer to try to reach a compromise with Gov. Bruce Rauner on at least some of his so-called “Turnaround Agenda.”

In a written statement on Monday, Madigan stressed House Democrats still believe the state budget – and only the budget – should be the top priority for lawmakers and the governor, but he said they’re willing to work with Rauner to find areas of his agenda on which they can compromise.

“It is our strong desire that Governor Rauner join us in putting the budget first. By showing the governor that House Democrats stand ready to work with him in good faith, it is my hope that he will return to the negotiating table and work with us to end the budget crisis,” Madigan said.

The speaker has appointed four leading Democrats – House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, deputy majority leaders Lou Lang and Art Turner, and assistant leader Jay Hoffman – to work with the governor on that task.

Rauner, all along, has characterized the Democrats as only being interested in an income tax hike.

“For those members of the General Assembly who’ve argued for the last couple years, ‘Let’s just cut a few things, and then put in a big tax hike to balance the budget,’ let’s be clear, that won’t solve the problem. Our budget will fall out of balance very quickly within a year or two if that’s all we did,” he said.

Madigan said lawmakers already have acted on a number of the governor’s requests. He also noted the state’s backlog of unpaid bills has ballooned from $4.5 billion at the start of the two-year budget impasse to more than $13 billion today.

Getting a new state budget in place is critical, one state official warned.

“Illinois is on the path to junk bond status if there is no agreement by May 31,” Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs said.

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