Latest: 4:30 pm, 3/7/17, Tuesday
ILLINOIS — It was a quick gavel in and gavel out as Senate members met briefly Tuesday.
The clock is ticking as Senate leaders are still working out some bills as part of the grand bargaining plan. Last week, Republicans shut down the last offer on the table. Now, it’s back to the drawing board.
Senate Democrats are waiting for Governor Bruce Rauner and Republican leaders who opposed the deal to repair or replace it. Last week, Democrats say they were ready to put a final vote to 12 bills in the plan.
However, at the last minute, Republicans pulled the plug and decided to call it off after Democrats say Governor Rauner interfered.
As for what members did Tuesday, a majority of the day, Senators and House members met in committees hosting a series of hearings where state agency directors asked questions about the governor’s budget proposal.
Some lawmakers are still frustrated the deal might be back to square one.
It’s important to note, each day the state goes without a budget, we go deeper into debt by about $11 million a day.
The grand bargaining deal is still in the works, however, new proposals about how to raise revenue continue to change.
Some things being talked about now would put a sales tax on things like pest control, storage lockers plus cable and satellite TV.
Update: 4:00 pm, 3/2/17, Thursday
ILLINOIS — Lawmakers’ frustrations have died down a bit since Wednesday night’s lack of votes on the Senates grand bargaining deal. They returned Thursday, but only minimal progress was made.
Senators were in session for less than an hour. The majority of the day was spent in committees. Each day which goes by, adds to the state’s backlog of bills adding about $11 million a day.
The main argument between the parties is some Senators say the deal was ready for a vote. Others say things like school funding, worker’s comp reform and pension relief are not finished.
Some Democrats say they feel like they’re back at square one. However, Republicans feel the deal is still on the table.
Both the House and Senate return for session next week. Regardless of the frustration within both parties, they say the grand bargaining deal is not done. Lawmakers say they will regroup and come back to the drawing board next week.
Rauner Spokeswoman Catherine Kelly released this statement:
We appreciate the hard work of the Senate in trying to pass a bipartisan agreement that can become law. Some progress has been made, but more work is needed to achieve a good deal for taxpayers. We encourage senators to keep working toward a good deal for taxpayers.
Original: 10:00 pm, 3/1/17, Wednesday
ILLINOIS — Democratic and Republican Senate leaders are pointing fingers at each other after the final vote on the grand bargaining deal fell through. As of Wednesday morning, most senators say they were on board end to this budget impasse.
That all changed once Governor Bruce Rauner decided to weigh in. Democrats accuse the governor of sabotaging the compromise.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been informed that the governor decided to interject himself in this process and doesn’t want this approved in this form,” said Senate President John Cullerton.
Republican leader Christine Radogno did not deny President Cullerton’s accusations. She remains confident the deal is still on the table.
“My only hope is that, sooner rather than later, because, as you all know, we are looking at going into the hole $11 million a day, every single day we don’t get this solved.”
Democrats say they showed up to vote but blame Rauner’s interference. They say some senators were threatened.
“We’ve heard firsthand from Republican colleagues the governor was calling people and chastising them for their votes yesterday and threatening them on future votes,” said Senator Don Harmon.
Republicans argue the Senate’s deal still had several key components unfinished.
“The package was not complete and that we need more time to digest and find what we need,” said Senator William Brady.
Regardless of the lack of votes, senate members say the deal is not being thrown out the window.
“That offer, as my understanding, is still on the table but, with each passing minute, it’s more difficult for us to maintain our majorities.”
“I have no question in my mind that we’re going to bring this thing in for a landing.”
President Cullerton did say they will be filling amendments of their bipartisan plans and say once Republicans have full support, they will call it for a vote.
A spokesperson from Governor Rauner’s office did comment on accusations of him meeting privately with senators.
“The Rauner Adminstration says it’s normal that the governor meets with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. These accusations are outrageous.”