* 1:52 pm - The governor told legislative leaders today that he will begin calling special legislative sessions starting July 5th. More info as it becomes available. [This subject item has been moved from another post below.]
* 1:58 pm - House Speaker Michael Madigan was clearly not happy after the leaders meeting and said it didn’t make any sense to call the special session. Apparently, the entire meeting today was about the special session.
Senate GOP Leader Frank Watson said the governor blew up at the leaders. House GOP Leader Tom Cross was noticeably frustrated and said he didn’t understand the rationale or logic behind the move.
* 2:01 pm - The governor had suggested that the two chambers return on the 5th during the last leaders meeting, but was rebuffed. The leaders then reportedly made him swear that he wouldn’t use their weeklong break against them and he complied. They should’ve gotten a memorandum of understanding.
The governor is said to be coming out of his office soon. More in a bit.
* 2:17 pm - While we wait for the governor to come out of his office, here are some quotes from after the meeting. Senate President Emil Jones said little to nothing…
* Madigan: “What I know is that there was an agreement on a schedule and he has rescinded that agreement.”
* Madigan: “My suggestion to the governor was if he wants to call a special session call up bills for people to vote on.”
* Watson: “He’s had five months to figure this out and he wants to blame everyone else.”
* Cross: “Theater of the absurd… I attribute it all to failed leadership…. [My members] will be here ready and willing to work whether they’re happy about it or not.”
* The guv’s spokesperson, Rebecca Rausch, said the first subject under discussion on Thursday the 5th will be pensions.
* 2:30 pm - So far, the Secretary of State’s office has yet to see the governor’s official proclamation. By law, it has to be filed with his office. The governor’s office won’t say yet what the special session will be about except to say it’s “budget related.” The specials are limited to specific bills or subject matters.
* 2:38 pm - Governor Blagojevich said he would call a special session “every day until we pass a budget.”. More Blagojevich quotes…
“The one-month budget is just a Republican budget in disguise.”
“Time for us to get the real work of the people done.”
“I expressed my view that it’s important to have the members here more often than not.”
* AUDIO FILES - CLICK NAMES TO DOWNLOAD SOUND FILES…
* Governor Rod Blagojevich [file is fixed.]
* House Speaker Madigan
* Senate President Jones
* Senate GOP Leader Watson
* House GOP Leader Cross (Part 1)
* House GOP Leader Cross (Part 2)
* 3:16 pm - The official proclamation calling the special session can be downloaded here.
* 3:43 pm - The governor repeatedly referred to “Speaker Madigan and his conservative Republican ally Senator Watson” during the press bang. More Blagojevich quotes…
* “[I will be calling special sessions] every single day from July 5th, without fail, every day seven days a week until we pass a budget that helps people.”
* (Question: Will you be here every day governor?) “I’ll be in Springfield every day.
* 3:48 pm - Speaker Madigan quotes…
* “He’s offered no new ideas to be considered by those special sessions.”
* “He has no ideas on revenue generation, same old stuff.”
* “I’ve just come to expect stuff like this.”
* 3:52 pm - Senate GOP Leader Frank Watson…
* “He wants to blame everybody else for problems that everybody initiated here and he blew up… It wasn’t a Mike Jacobs kind of thing, he didn’t go that far I believe.”
* “I just sat there in bewilderment… He yells ‘Frank Watson this, Frank Watson that,’ and we’re in the minority here the last time I checked.”
* “This is not the way to get things done.”
* “I said, ‘Governor, if you want to put a bill on the Senate floor, let’s talk about how you’re going to pay for all this and just see if there’s a political will to do this. Governor, there isn’t. If you haven’t got that message by now, then that’s your fault.’”
* “This is a big issue that we’ve had with this administration… it’s a trust factor and here we go again.”
* A special session is what we call ‘A teacher a day.’ $40,000 is what will be spent on a special session… and that’s about what a salary of a teacher in my area (will make).
* Watson revealed that the governor wants to bring the press into the room for the negotiations. “I don’t know if that’s not such a bad idea. Why don’t you just come on in and see what goes on inside the room?”
* “I think he ought to spend an evening here just like everybody else and stay in Springfield.”
* 4:11 pm - A few Leader Cross quotes…
* “[Special session is] a huge cost to taxpayers of the state of Illinois.”
* “I thought we had an understanding that we would start back the following week, but obviously that’s not the case. So, we’re ready to work and get the budget done.”
* [No budget] “I attribute that to Democrats failing.”
* 4:14 pm - The AP has a brief bit up, entitled “Blindsiding lawmakers, governor wants special session on budget”…
Legislative leaders complained that Blagojevich is breaking an agreement that lawmakers would not be called back to Springfield until July 10th.
More importantly, they say there is nothing for rank & file lawmakers to do. Budget negotiations between Blagojevich and the leaders are at a standstill, so there’s no budget for lawmakers to vote on.
* 4:34 pm - From Illinois Issues’ Bethany Carson…
The governor’s last words were the legislators could forfeit their per diem if they were worried about keeping down costs.
* 4:47 pm - This won’t inflame things further I’m sure. The governor has sent a letter to Madigan and Watson, which has ended up in the hands of House Democratic members…
I understand you raised concerns about the per diem costs associated with Special Sessions. I would offer two alternatives to address your concerns. First, members… are in the position to “waive” their per diems… As a second alternative, at your request, I could use a reduction veto to eliminate per diem payments. Please let us know if this is something you would like me to do.
The full letter, along with a letter sent to all legislators, can be downloaded here.