A long day in the Illinois Senate leaves budget plan in limbo

Roy Cooper makes remarks during a news conference at Credit Suisse in Morrisville, N.C., May 9, 2017. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, right, and Sen. The Republican senators were making a plea for more time to continue negotiating a budget deal with Senate Democrats.

Illinois Senate Democrats on Wednesday voted for a $36.5 billion spending plan that would pay universities and social service providers that have gone months without funding, but the effort may prove to be more about political theater than ending the state's almost 2-year-long budget impasse.

When it comes to approving a budget, IL lawmakers appear to be closer than they've been in almost two years.

"Do you really think it's going to get any better?"

But it was done largely without the help of Republicans, and the results were uneven, at best. Democrats passed the spending bill Wednesday.

And that is to say nothing of the other measures that have yet to be settled - lynchpins of Rauner's agenda.

They failed to pass a two-year property tax freeze. The bill with cuts failed, and they didn't even call the tax hike for a vote. It's part of the GOP budget plan, but they won't support it without all the structural changes they seek.

"The issue is: Why did the Republicans not vote for the budget?"

Top House Democrats said they would review any measures that may be sent over from the Senate.

"There are people in here who want to wait until these are unanimous roll calls, and they never will be", Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights.

The state's fiscal problems are legend.

The state's backlog of bills is surpassing 14 billion and time is running out.

The bills made up the so-called "Grand Bargain" and were originally supposed to be considered together, meaning if one failed, they all failed.

"What happened today was a political show, orchestrated by the Democrats, who are trying to portray political agreements that do not yet exist", Barickman said after the vote.

Cullerton declared major progress and said he would call votes on other legislation Thursday. Cullerton says Democrats are also willing to freeze property taxes for 2 years, not any longer.

  • Carolyn Briggs