As expected, hardly anybody showed up for Saturday’s special session called by the governor to take up the idea of a one-month budget…
About one-quarter of state senators showed up for Saturday’s session. Less than half of House members made an appearance. Neither chamber devoted even a second of discussion to a temporary budget.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said he wouldn’t call the response disrespectful to Blagojevich. “I think it indicates that there’s a majority of the House that simply is not responsive to the governor’s desires,” he said.
Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said the indifference to Blagojevich’s special session and his exclusion from budget talks demonstrate his shrinking role in Springfield.
“There are signs of irrelevance,” Brady said.
Blagojevich issued a statement saying he was disappointed.
Brady is almost certainly running for governor, so his comments should always be taken with a grain of salt. Still, he has a point.
The governor called another special for Monday, when legislators were planning to be back in town anyway. Calling a Sunday special session would have meant yet another story about his alleged irrelevance and demonstrated even more weakness.
“We’ve had two productive meetings, we directed our appropriation directors to work through the weekend to prepare a 12-month budget, which is precisely what we’re going to do,” Madigan said. “When we return to Springfield next week, I presume that they’ll be another meeting of the four legislative leaders, and we will continue to discuss and negotiate the remaining issues, which largely revolve around the funding level for education.”
In the Senate, Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson (D-Crete) further supported efforts for a 12-month budget, saying she hoped it could be completed by Friday. To make the governor’s special session on Saturday official, she gaveled the Senate in and out in less than five minutes, including the prayer and the pledge of allegiance.
Even leadership expected little action in Springfield over the weekend. Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) was in Chicago getting treated for a sciatic nerve problem, and Sen. James Clayborne (D-Belleville) was on a long-planned family vacation in Aruba, a spokeswoman said.
On the spur of the moment, Halvorson, at the invitation of Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), went to the governor’s Capitol office after the brief session to seek an audience.
“You know what? If I could speak for what’s in the governor’s mind, I would be a millionaire,” Halvorson said.
“Why do you think that?” Brady asked. “What’s in his mind that’s so valuable?”
The governor was not at his office, where a spokeswoman said he was at the Executive Mansion at that time.
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