SPRINGFIELD — As a special session of the Illinois legislature continues, party leaders met behind closed doors Sunday to try and come up with a budget fix before the end of the month.
“We haven’t had a meeting like this in a long time,” said Senate President John Cullerton.
Leaders on both sides of the aisle say they feel the pressure to make a deal before Friday’s deadline, which is the end of the fiscal year. As the state risks being downgraded to junk bond status, party leaders were meeting for the first time since early December.
“I think it’s imperative that we get a budget passed. All other issues need to be put aside,” said Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs.
State Comptroller Susana Mendoza said if they don’t, there’s a real possibility Illinois could end up in a “deadbeat situation” where it can’t pay its bills.
“They need to act like adults; get in the room together and work it out,” Mendoza said.
Despite the pressure, leaders are still focusing on off-budget issues. Speaker of the House Mike Madigan made new demands Sunday, saying he wants three things from the governor: First, he’s asking the governor to sign a bill to change the school funding formula. Second, sign another bill to regulate the rates that can be charged by workers compensation insurance companies. And finally, he wants transparency when it comes to procurement of healthcare contracts.
The governor has said before he would veto a school funding bill.
“This is a governmental negotiation,” Madigan said. “This is a situation where nobody gets 100%.”
Leaders say they will now go back to their caucuses and discuss what’s on the table, with more meetings expected later this week. Madigan says he wants to have another meeting Tuesday.
Republican House Leader Jim Durkin says his people won’t meet again until the Speaker rolls out his plan.
“Obviously we are all feeling the pressure. We have five days to go. And to the extent that we have communication, bipartisan communication, is a good thing,” Durkin said.