Illinois lawmakers miss deadline, punt on passing a budget

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Today Governor Rauner reversed course and asked lawmakers to send him a short-term spending plan.

“The governor this morning suggested that we all work together on a stop-gap measure that would take us through the general election, through the veto session, maybe the end of January,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan.

This comes after weeks of lobbying for a “grand compromise” that would raise revenue and include structural reforms. But now the governor realizes it can’t get done by the end of the session tonight.

Democrats say they’ll consider passing something short term, but it won’t happen before the deadline.

“This is not something that’s going to happen today. It’s going to be sent off to the budget working groups. These are the people who’ve been working on the budget for a year and a half,” Madigan said.

Rauner’s stopgap proposal would keep the government running until December, as well as send money to Illinois’ cash-strapped universities and social service providers. The governor is also calling for a separate bill to ensure K-through-12 schools open in the fall. But there’s no sign that lawmakers will even do that tonight.

“If the Democrats wanted to make sure our schools open in the fall, funding our universities, keep the lights on the prisons, they would pass this measure that is being proposed right now,” said Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno.

Complicating matters: this is an election year. Both sides are trying to blame the other for this 11-month-old mess.

“It’s all about the blame game. The problem is politics is taking the front seat to policy in this state and to the very basic needs we need to cover,” Radogno said.