Budget talks go nowhere -- neither do legislators
Sunday will not be a day of rest for the Illinois General Assembly.
After officially entering its third straight year without a budget, Illinois is still clinging to hope, as legislators will continue into a second day of negotiations that followed a 10-day special session that proved fruitless.
An hour into Saturday's session of inactivity, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) informed the floor that there would be no budget votes.
“There will be a session tomorrow," he said. "We do not expect that any bills will be called. The leaders met yesterday, they will meet again today. The appropriations revenue people met late last night. Workers’ compensation people met this morning. All of those people will continue to work through the weekend. Leader (Jim) Durkin and I will meet with the other two leaders very shortly.”
Durkin (R-Western Springs), the House minority leader, rose to express his concerns about the state’s credit rating due to the lack of budget and the perceptions a lack of voting could produce.
“We had great momentum yesterday in this chamber,” Durkin said. “Sending our members back home or wherever and saying that we’re not going to come back until late tomorrow, I believe, does not move us toward resolution of this issue. I still contend these matters can be resolved very quickly. I want this done today.”
S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investor Services have both threatened to downgrade Illinois' credit rating again, most likely making it the first state in history to earn a "junk" rating.
At this point, there's speculation that even if the state does pass a budget -- it probably won't happen Sunday, though -- it's credit rate will be dinged anyway if the budget lacks reform and contains a $5 billion tax revenue proposal that would hike the state income tax rate to 4.95 percent from 3.75 percent the corporate income tax rate to 7 percent from 5.25 percent.
The Illinois Policy Institute has vehemently opposed the tax hike, asking readers to email their state reps to urge them to vote against it.
Durkin claimed that proposals such as the tax hike can still be discussed and negotiated.
“I don’t believe we’re that far apart, but saying that we are going to gavel out right now and return at some point tomorrow, to me, does not send a message to Illinoisans that we’re prepared to bring this to resolution any time soon,” Durkin said.
Madigan retorted that if Durkin has bills to present, then he may proceed, but until he does, the House would “stand at ease.”
Durkin was unable to provide an answer as Madigan left the floor.