Latest: 7:00 pm, 2/8/17, Wednesday
ILLINOIS — Still no budget deal, but Senate members did decide to vote on some things inside the grand bargaining deal. However, it took many Republican’s by surprise.
Leader Christine Radogno (R) says her agreement with Senate President John Cullerton (D) was to only take votes on minor bills but it wasn’t the case Wednesday.
A major piece of legislation involving pensions took some lawmakers by surprise. It was a back-and-forth tennis match between Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate debating four bills included in the grand bargaining deal.
One which took Republicans by surprise was the pension overhaul bill.
“We had a pretty good open, working relationship,” said Radogno.
The other bills consisted of local government consolidation and cutting red tape in government. Democrats call these minor.
“We’re doing everything the governor wants us to do in order to pass a budget and then you don’t see any votes from the Republican side. I’s really discouraging,” said Senator Scott Bennett. (D)
However Republicans say they’re surprised pensions were even up for a debate.
“The agreement was that we would move these bills forward together,” said Radogno.
This was the only bill which failed to pass. Senator Chapin Rose (R) says it was premature to call it. He says he would much rather see more work being done on worker’s comp reform and school funding.
“Why did they pick these bills? Because, those other bills are not done yet and maybe they’re a little afraid of what it might look like if they were to be thrown out.”
Bennett says, regardless of what was called for a vote, it’s time to start making progress. He says this might be an indication the grand bargaining deal could come to an end.
“But at the end of that, if you still can’t vote for bills that were your idea, that suggest that maybe the governor is not for this, and it suggests that maybe there’s a lot of people behind the scenes that are working to kill this deal.”
Even though the pension bill did not pass, it will be re-filed and call again for a vote.
Update: 4:45 pm, 2/8/17, Wednesday
ILLINOIS — Parts of the grand bargaining deal are slowly moving forward, but not all lawmakers are on board. Several bills were voted on and some Republicans were surprised.
Senate Leader Christine Radogno says she was very surprised the pension overhaul bill was called and says it’s a breach of their agreement.
The agreement she’s referring to is both sides of the aisle planned to vote on minor bills, like government consolidation.
Democratic leaders argue it’s time to start taking votes and get the ball moving forward. Things which did pass with a Democratic majority will help cut red tape in government.
Some lawmakers call the bills which did pass “minor.” Republicans say they did not expect to vote on them and they would have preferred to put finishing touches on things like worker’s comp reform and school funding.
Many Senate Democrats argued the grand bargaining deal is long overdue and it’s time to start taking votes while members are present.
As for the House, they met briefly Wednesday, for about 45 minutes, but did not vote on any bills.
Original: 4:15 pm, 2/7/17, Tuesday
ILLINOIS — It looks like it will take at least another day before lawmakers vote on a bill which could solve the budget crisis. Lawmakers are still in meetings discussing the grand bargaining deal.
Some lawmakers say there’s still so much at stake and rushing a vote Tuesday would not be fair to Illinoisans. One component added just last week was the revamped school funding formula.
Lawmakers say this could be a reason why a vote was put on hold. Both sides of the aisle held meetings a majority of the day discussing pros and cons of the package.
Both Republicans and Democrats agree they want to pass a budget before things get worse, but it takes time to get it right.
The House returns to Springfield Wednesday to join the Senate in a full day of session.
Governor Bruce Rauner did say he’s not weighing in on the grand bargaining deal. He’s scheduled to introduce his own budget next week during the budget address.