Durkin: "We're the laughing stock of the nation"

Apr 4, 2016

The top Republicans in Illinois' General Assembly are Senator Christine Radogno and Rep. Jim Durkin, both of the southwestern suburbs of Chicago.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

A stalemate persists, as Illinois begins a tenth month without a budget. Legislators are back in Springfield after a spring break. They now have a few months to also find an agreement on a new budget, to cover next year.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says the urgency to pass a budget has heightened.

"It has been urgent all along, but I think in large part people have been shielded from that urgency, because they don't all use all the services of the state of Illinois," Radogno said.

Radogno says now, that impact is beginning to creep to a larger population.

Parents are fearful elementary and high schools won't get funded next year. Students deciding where to go to college are questioning which universities will remain open.

Republicans, who are in the minority in the legislature, claim they're willing to compromise, but Democrats refuse to negotiate. Democratic leaders say they've been compromising for a year and a half.

Radogno, and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, say their members won't go along with a tax hike to help balance the budget unless Democrats get on board with some of their plans for improving the state's economy, which includes proposals to make workers' compensation less expensive for businesses and a change in how legislative maps are drawn.

"This dysfunction is starting to know become more and more apparent," Durkin said Monday. "We're the laughing stock of the nation. It's not acceptable."

But the spokesman for the Democratic Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, says the G-O-P's continued push for what he calls "non-budget issues" seems "ill-timed."

There's increasing frustration, and in cases desperation, as higher education and certain social service agencies have now gone more than nine months without state funding.