ILLINOIS — It’s a battle of the op-eds between Governor Bruce Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton (D). This week, both issued letters to each other in the State Journal Register guest column.
The war of words asks each to have a change of heart. Monday, the paper posted Cullerton’s letter asking Rauner to take the deal; as in the grand bargain, and save the state before it’s too late.
Rauner’s response Tuesday suggested they keep working to make a fair deal for taxpayers. It’s the clash of opinions. Two of the state’s top leaders are reaching out to each other, but not face-to-face.
Monday’s SJR paper shows Cullerton prompting the governor to take the Senate’s grand bargain deal before time runs out.
With only 15 days of the legislative session remaining, Cullerton says he’s got a calendar and is aware of the consequences of each day which goes by. The state’s unpaid bills just topped $13 billion and could exceed $24 billion by the 2018 election.
Governor Rauner’s response was to be independent and not follow in Speaker Michael Madigan’s footsteps. Speaker Madigan formed a working group of four House leaders to negotiate with the governor on non-budget-related issues last week.
Rauner called Madigan’s efforts a “distraction.” Rauner has repeatedly said the Senate’s deal is the best deal out there. Cullerton says he’ll keep negotiating, but at some point, it has to lead to a deal.
Rauner’s letter also mentions his administration will remain at the table for the rest of the legislative session, working around the clock. However, he did not say he would take the first step.
Both House Democrats and Republicans announced they’re willing to work on a compromise to end the impasse immediately, but both parties complained about the lack of cooperation from the other side.
Republicans call the Democrats asking Rauner to join them at the table a “stalling tactic,” rather than working to find solutions to things like worker’s comp and property tax relief.