* NBC 5…
State legislators are meeting this holiday weekend in Springfield as they try to come to an agreement on a new budget, but one of the Democrats’ key initiatives is reportedly in big trouble.
According to NBC 5, , Democrats held a caucus on Sunday night in Springfield, and only 46 representatives are planning to vote for a tax hike that the Senate passed last week. In order to pass the legislation out of the House, 60 votes would be needed, leaving Democrats well short of that mark.
Rank-and-file members were divided: some were reluctant to vote to raise taxes knowing Rauner is likely to veto the plan and try to score political points ahead of his 2018 re-election bid, while others wanted to vote for a budget plan given they expect to be attacked either way.
“We could potentially do the right thing, have the governor veto it, potentially try to push it past him, and have him still come out and say, ‘Well, I still didn’t want this. I get all the benefits of having a budget, but none of the political pain,’” said Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago. “I think there’s real reluctance to do that.”
Mitchell said House Democrats also were spooked by what they saw happen in the Senate, where Democrats decided to go on their own following months of negotiations with Republicans.
“So mimicking that experience in the House, I don’t think appeals to a lot of people,” Mitchell said.
House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang, D-Skokie, on Sunday night said Democrats are discussing the Senate bills, but he noted there’s discussion of “some new items and different ways of looking at things.”
“I think it’s premature. Some might say well, ‘We’re three days away from May 31, how can it be premature?’ ” Lang said. “I think we know that in the life of the General Assembly, three days is a lifetime.”
Um, it’s only a “lifetime” if everyone is pulling in the same direction.
In a hearing on higher education spending, Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, R-Leland Grove, expressed frustration with another hearing that covered the same ground.
“I respectfully request that instead of asking the universities to continue to come in and tell us how bad things have been operating without a budget, I think it’s time for our committee to come up with a bipartisan solution,” she said. “With all due respect, it’s our turn.”
Rep. Greg Harris has said he invited the House Republicans to participate in drafting a budget. They declined.