Republicans suggest there’s a divide between Democratic leaders
Monday, Nov 28, 2016
* Senate President John Cullerton emerged from the leaders meeting shortly after 4 o’clock to say that the Democrats will “offer counter-proposals” to the governor’s ideas tomorrow. He said those counter-proposals would be centered on workers’ comp, consolidation of government and pension reform. “We’ll see if we can make some more progress,” he said.
Asked about any progress on the budget, Cullerton said “we’re talking about ‘reforms,’” before they “talk about the budget.”
Asked why he described it as a “good meeting,” Cullerton said “We have an understanding of the topics and process,” going forward and the leaders “will have a normal give and take.”
* But will the Democrats really offer counter-proposals? House Speaker Michael Madigan emerged to say, yet again, that if the leaders “continue to use the framework” successfully used for seven budgets, they could get something done. That’s usually his code for saying that they need to work out a budget before they tackle the governor’s reforms.
So why is he participating in the talks if the governor insists upon talking about his reforms first? Madigan said he participated today at the invitation of the governor.
And when asked about Cullerton’s comment regarding counter-proposals, Madigan initially dodged the question, but later said “Sen. Cullerton can speak for himself and I’ll speak for myself.”
* House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said the Democrats would offer counter-proposals on the governor’s proposed reforms tomorrow. But, Durkin said, he wasn’t “getting the same sense of urgency” on completing a budget from the Dems.
Durkin said if nothing changes he fears the Democrats would push stop-gap budgets for the next two years.
* Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno said “It’s unclear who we are negotiating with.” Cullerton, she said, pledged to bring counter-proposals tomorrow, but Madigan, she said, is sticking with his “seven successful budget negotiations” stance.
“It does seem that there’s a divide between the two of them about how committed they are to any kind of change,” Radogno said, adding she’d take Cullerton at his word. “But I just continue to hear the rote comments” about the seven successful budgets out of Madigan.
Durkin said he was worried that Cullerton might bring a “workers’ comp lite” proposal to the meeting tomorrow. Radogno wondered if Cullerton was once again just playing “good cop” to Madigan’s “bad cop.”
Durkin said that, rather than a special session, the leaders should meet every day, whether in Springfield or in Chicago.
* Meanwhile, Madigan also told reporters that he had “overwhelming support” for his reelection as House Speaker. And when asked about a lame duck session, Madigan said “The governor has spoken at length about a lame duck tax increase,” with a bit of snark in his voice, calling that fact “interesting.”