* Things got pretty tense in the House yesterday, and it escalated a bit when the House Republicans admitted that they were refusing to vote for the budget plan because Speaker Madigan was pushing a pension cost shift proposal they didn’t like…
…Madigan and Cross sparred hours earlier, with Cross saying that Republicans would not support a state budget plan that they had negotiated with Democrats because of the speaker’s decision to push for the cost shift.
“We want to do pensions, but we have to do it right and without taxing Downstate and suburban property taxpayers,” Cross said on the House floor. “For that reason, you will not see us supporting a budget.”
But Madigan chastised Cross for trying to link the state budget to pension reforms.
“I did not take the position that I would not adopt a budget for the entire state of Illinois unless I got some other issue I selected,” Madigan said angrily.
* And then it got even more intense when the House Republicans accused the Democrats of playing nasty budget games…
Shortly before his about-face, Madigan endured a bitter GOP attack for allegedly “zeroing out” juvenile diabetes funding in what one House Republican described as “hardball” punishment against Cross and Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), who both have diabetic children and who opposed the Madigan pension-reform package.
“Speaker Madigan, who is the same as the rest of us, is playing hardball in some kind of game after we’ve all worked so hard for so many weeks,” yelled state Rep. Jim Sacia (R-Pecatonica), calling out Madigan for a $2.47 million funding cut for diabetes research.
“We’re less than 30 hours from adjournment, and all of a sudden, we’ll show those Republicans what we’re gonna do. Is this what we’re all about?” Sacia asked. “This is shameful.”
The diabetes-funding fireworks, which came as House Democrats began voting out a $33.7 billion budget, did not draw a direct response from Madigan himself, but an aide mocked Sacia’s claim.
“I have no idea what Sacia was talking about,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said. “I don’t talk to Sacia anymore. He wasn’t very coherent.”
*** UPDATE *** I missed this passage in an Illinois Issues Blog post…
Republicans were especially outraged at the zeroing out of money for a juvenile diabetes research program. Members of House Republican leadership, including Cross, have children with the disease. Republicans called the changes “punitive.”
Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, the chair of the House Human Services Committee, said research was cut in many areas to direct more money to services. “We have systematically removed all funding for research.”
Feigenholtz, a Chicago Democrat, said: “These are gut wrenching decisions that we make.”