* Yesterday, Gov. Bruce Rauner was asked for his thoughts on a possible special session if he fails yet again to get a budget deal by the end of May. Rauner said he thought the General Assembly could come to an agreement on a two-year budget deal along with elements of his Turnaround Agenda by the end of May, then said…
“If we have to go into special sessions, we’ll deal with that at the time. I don’t want taxpayers to be charged for it. I would seriously consider - we’re discussing this within our administration - me paying for it personally, so the taxpayers don’t have to if special sessions have to be called. We should not let this go past May 31st.”
* The SJ-R looks at recent history…
Last year, the legislature worked past its May 31 adjournment in an attempt to reach a budget agreement. But since the extended session wasn’t a special session called by the governor, lawmakers did not receive per diem pay, which stops after May 31.
“There was just a mechanism the House used last year to keep the legislature in continuous session, and I don’t think the term special session ever came up,” said Steve Brown, spokesman to House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.
The current per diem amount for legislators is $111 per session day, which would cost the state $19,647 daily if every lawmaker accepted the pay. However, some lawmakers are unwilling to accept per diems in overtime sessions, and some don’t accept it year-round.
So, the only way it would likely cost taxpayers much of anything would be if Rauner forced everyone back to town. And Rauner has admitted in the past that such a thing doesn’t really work. The only way it works is if everybody is ready to cut a deal. But then you don’t really need an official special session. They can just come back for a couple of days, vote and then go home.
* Meanwhile, Rauner’s not the only person calling attention to his massive personal wealth…
Homeless youth and advocates gathered outside one of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s homes on Thursday, to call attention to the state budget impasse and its impact on programs for the homeless.
The group lined up backpacks outside 340 on the Park, a high-rise condo building across the street from Maggie Daley Park. Rauner owns a condo there, and organizers of the demonstration said the governor uses that condo only for storage.
“We are out here in front of one of Governor Rauner’s nine homes. He owns nine luxury homes, and yet there are thousands of homeless people around the state that have no homes, and the only places that they have to stay are in jeopardy,” said Julie Dworkin, policy director for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
The 25 backpacks they laid out on the sidewalk represent the 25,000 homeless children in Illinois. For homeless youth, backpacks often carry everything they own.
Maybe his money would be put to better use by helping those kids.