Governor And Leaders Meeting Behind Closed Doors

Dec 1, 2015

Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner closed the public portion of Tuesday's budget summit with a forceful plea to take on what he says are the root causes of Illinois' financial woes. 

The Republican governor capped statements to open the budget negotiation with a familiar speech about the business and political climates in the state and the need to change them. He disagreed with statements made by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago. Madigan has argued since summer that the changes Rauner wants to make are not related to the budget and should be discussed separately.  

The businessman first-year governor wants to restrict workers' compensation and liability lawsuit payouts and restrict union power as a way to make business grow and produce more revenue.  
 He says ``we'll still chase our tails'' if the state just raises taxes _ as Democrats desire _ without ``structural reforms.''  
Rauner and the leaders are now talking in private.  
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 2:55 p.m.  
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin says there will never be enough revenue to feed Illinois' spending appetite without reforms of the type proposed by GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner.  
The Western Springs Republican says the budget deficit problem didn't begin with Rauner's inauguration in January. He criticized Democrats who held the governor's office and the Legislature for the past 12 years.  
Durkin made the statements in opening remarks to the partially public budget summit in the governor's office. Democratic Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago followed and criticized Durkin for the comments.  
Cullerton says Democrats and Republicans cooperated on issues such as a massive capital construction bill during the 12 years of Democratic rule. And he says the GOP also voted for a temporary income tax increase because it was necessary.   
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     2:45 p.m.  
House Speaker Michael Madigan has opened the budget summit with Gov. Bruce Rauner by arguing for a tax increase and spending cuts to balance the budget.  
The Chicago Democrat led off the partially public meeting by pledging to work cooperatively with the Republican governor but criticizing his desire to make changes to the business and political climates before working on a state budget.
 
 Madigan says that state officials cannot ``simply cut our way out of the budget deficit problem.''  
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     2:30 p.m.  
Gov. Bruce Rauner has opened the much-anticipated budget summit by welcoming legislative leaders _ including the Democrats he's feuded with for months.  
The first part of the meeting is being televised online for the public. Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan suggested the whole conference be public, but Republican Rauner took over planning and is allowing just opening remarks to be televised by a pool camera belonging to the state's public communications agency.  
Rauner and the Legislature's majority Democrats have been unable to agree on a spending plan now six months into the state's fiscal year.  
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   11:30 a.m.  
Democratic leaders of the Illinois General Assembly are trying to appear optimistic about Tuesday afternoon's rare budget summit with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.  
 Rauner and the four legislative leaders _ including Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton _ haven't been in the same room together since May. Tuesday marks the start of the sixth month of the fiscal year with no budget.  
 Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says the meeting is ``another step'' in trying to reach an agreement. Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon says Cullerton hopes there will be ``productive negotiations.''  
 But Madigan and Cullerton have objected to Rauner's insistence on making changes to the business and political climates before talking spending. And Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly says the governor still plans to discuss his proposals for ``structural reforms.''  
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     3:01 a.m.  
Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders are scheduled to meet Tuesday in a highly publicized and partially public budget summit.  
The Republican executive and Democrats who control the General Assembly have been unable to agree on a state spending plan for the year that began July 1.  
They've not all met in the same room since May.  
Rauner will host House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton _ both Chicago Democrats _ and Republican leaders Jim Durkin and Christine Radogno (ruh-DOHN'-yoh) in his Capitol office for the mid-afternoon conference.  
The public may watch the first hour or so _ when lawmakers and Rauner make opening statements. Then officials will close the door to negotiate.  
Expectations are low for the meeting first suggested by good government groups.

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