If the state’s historic budget impasse is to end any time soon, it could largely be due to a package of legislation unveiled in the Senate for the first time on January 9th. In addition to providing a full year budget with matching revenue, the measures tackle a broad range of issues, including term limits for legislative leaders, a statewide two-year property tax freeze, workers compensation reform, pension reform, and reforms to trim the cost of government.
“I am encouraged by the budget package introduced in the Senate yesterday as it not only shows tremendous progress on the issue, but includes several structural reforms to state government that are desperately needed,” Sen. Rezin said. “While there are some items in this package I don’t agree with, this is a good framework for compromise going forward so we can end this impasse once and for all. True compromise means both sides give and take. Working together – this is how we move Illinois forward.”
The legislation was largely the result of meetings between Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago). The negotiations were based on the framework developed by bipartisan, bicameral working groups throughout the year.
The package of bills marks the first time any of the recent bipartisan agreements have linked reforms, a budget, and revenue together. The legislation also features language linking the entire package together, so that all of them must be passed into law for any of them to take effect.
Many lawmakers and good-government organizations had previously criticized the General Assembly for taking up controversial and major legislation during the lame-duck session. In light of that, in addition to time constraints due to the ending of the 99th General Assembly, the two legislative leaders agreed to wait until the 100th General Assembly was sworn in on Wednesday to re-file the legislation. The delay will allow lawmakers, reporters, and residents to see the bills before they are voted on.
Leader Radogno stated that while there is no firm timeline to pass the full slate of bills, she hoped action would take place on or before February 1st.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has been briefed on the legislation, and he offered support for the efforts of the Senate leaders to continue negotiating to find common ground.