CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state’s top four lawmakers seemed to meet in vain Tuesday, attempting to end a two-year budget standoff, but they’ll give it another shot Thursday.
Both top Democratic and Republican lawmakers said their meeting with the governor at the Thompson Center was respectful, but Rep. Greg Harris, the top budget negotiator for House Democrats, said they didn’t make any progress toward a budget deal.
“There is a difference of opinion between Democrats and Republicans on how to go forward enacting a budget,” he said.
The two sides have not agreed on a full year’s state budget since Rauner first took office in 2013, and the state is currently operating on a stopgap budget that expires at the end of the year.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, the state’s leading Democrat, isn’t panicking.
“On January 1, spending authority for certain of those areas will expire. That doesn’t mean that costs that have been incurred before January 1 will not be paid,” he said.
However, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said there’s a sense of urgency among her fellow Republicans.
“The problem is people can continue to incur costs, but at some point we can’t pay them. There’s just no money unless we have a balanced budget that may or may not include [new tax] revenue, depending on what the four of us decide,” she said.
The stopgap budget now in place includes a full year of funding for public elementary and high schools, and for capital construction. However, funding for state universities and colleges, human services programs, and most state government operations will expire at the end of December.
Madigan has said he wants to reconstitute bipartisan bicameral working groups that met this summer to work on the budget, so lawmakers can review Rauner’s non-budgetary proposals like legislative term limits and a property tax freeze. The governor has said he won’t support another temporary budget plan without those.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin accused Democrats of stalling.
“I do not gather that there is any sense of urgency on behalf of the Democrat leadership to resolve this by the end of the year. I asked the question today of whether they can work on a budget, prepare a budget with us by the end of the year, and it was silent, and that to me is disappointing,” he said.
The four leaders will meet with the governor again on Thursday.