That’s what Blagojevich has used them for. He’s called 16 special sessions on this or that issue so far this year, one less than 2004, when he also was engaged in a battle with lawmakers over the budget. He accounts for nearly half of the 67 special sessions called by governors since the state’s 1970 Constitution was adopted.
That constitution gives him the authority to call for the special meetings to discuss a specific topic, but it doesn’t clearly say the governor may set the date and time. It would probably be a good thing to settle that issue. But that will do nothing to settle the underlying problem — that Blagojevich was ordering lawmakers to show up when there was nothing for them to do, often on weekends. For instance, he called a special session to address CTA funding on August 13. He offered no bill of his own, but he did threaten to veto the only realistic proposal on the table, an increase in the regional mass transit sales tax.
Party affiliation seems to have gone by the wayside for Blagojevich, a Democrat. He mentioned House Democrats and Madigan by name several times in a 15-minute question-and-answer session but avoided discussion of the state Senate, headed by one of his strongest allies and fellow Chicago Democrat, Senate President Emil Jones.
State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, who had a hand in crafting electric rate legislation Blagojevich signed Tuesday, was not invited to the bill signing but came anyway and questioned the governor’s idea of “pork.”
“These are not pork projects, these are things that are absolutely necessary,” said Bradley, who estimates his district lost $650,000 for child abuse centers, senior citizen meals, sewer construction and more.