Durkin tells Dems they need GOP to pass budget in 'overtime'
Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) reminded Democratic lawmakers that they will need Republican support to get a state budget done during the special session that began on Wednesday.
“I cannot overstate that there is no time like the present,” Durkin said. “One week ago, a group of lawmakers standing before you put forth a compromise budget plan with reforms that puts us on a clear path to finishing our job. Remember, we are in overtime. A simple majority is no longer in effect in the House of Representatives. Speaker (Michael) Madigan and the Democrats will need Republican votes if they want to end this impasse. It is up to them.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner called lawmakers back to Springfield for the session that will continue until either a budget is passed or the fiscal year ends on June 30. The state faces the possibility of an unprecedented third consecutive year without a budget and the devastating economic effects it would cause.
Republican lawmakers introduced a compromised package of proposals recently that would provide some funding to the state and enact reforms to its most vital systems.
“Our plan is responsible and protects taxpayers by imposing a hard spending cap [$38 billion] and a four-year property tax freeze," Durkin said. "It includes $5 billion in spending reductions and adjustments and will help bring down the backlog of unpaid bills. It increases funding to schools and will make our education funding system more equitable. It funds human service programs and will ensure road construction projects will continue through the summer. We’ve also included long overdue pension reform, workers’ compensation reform, and term limits for legislative leaders and constitutional officers.”
The package also includes a government consolidation reform bill that would reduce the amount of local government units in hopes of lessening local property tax burdens.
Durkin was joined by several of his Republican colleagues who echoed his argument that Illinois stands at a precipice.
“These next 10 days are critically important,” Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) said. “Three caucuses have put together a plan, and the governor has put together a plan. There is one caucus that has not. It is important that House Democrats come to the table to meet [on] compromise that moves forward for the people of Illinois.”
While Rauner intended Wednesday to be the first day of the special session, both chambers postposed it until Thursday after sitting for less than 30 minutes and going into caucus meetings.