Illinois Democrats such as House Speaker Michael Madigan and Illinois Republicans such as Gov. Bruce Rauner weren't able to come to a budget compromise that pleased nearly everyone in Springfield by the end of the spring legislative session May 31. Now the people most directly involved have issued frank and sometimes cutting opinions on who is to blame.
Gov. Bruce Rauner called the session "stunningly disappointing" and said the Democrats who rejected his Illinois Turnaround agenda "are at war with the people of the state."
Senate President John Cullerton said Republicans in his chamber had been seduced away from bipartisan cooperation by the lure of Rauner's campaign cash.
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said Cullerton's lament of a partisan standoff was just an elaborate smokescreen for Democrats' desire for tax increases.
House Speaker Michael Madigan accused Rauner of operating in extremes when moderation is needed.
And they said a whole lot more, as the press conferences and interview below show. Select quotations are excerpted below each.
Rauner: "The insiders in Springfield, who make their money from the government"
As the final weekend of the session began, Rauner largely had removed his Illinois Turnaround agenda from the budget talks, with two exceptions: He still wanted a change to the workers' compensation system and a freeze on property taxes. When Madigan and Cullerton refused to budget, he said they were protecting government insiders' interests:
I've heard chatter the last couple days including this morning that Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton are about the middle class. You'll probably hear a lot about that in the coming days I would speculate. Let me be crystal clear: They are not about the middle class. They are about the political class in Illinois. Let us all be crystal clear what's going on here. This is a battle for the future of Illinois and it pits the political class against the people; the middle class, all income levels. That's what's going on here.
The insiders in Springfield, who make their money from the government, are at war with the people of the state. The taxpayers, the homeowners, the schoolchildren and their parents, small business owners. Those are the folks who are suffering in Illinois. And you know what groups are doing well in Illinois? ... Politicians and the folks who make their money from the government. Lobbyists, special interest groups, government union heads.
Madigan: Rauner functions "in the extreme"
In an interview with Jak Tichenor of WSIU-TV, Madigan said Rauner needed to focus on eliminating the state's $6-billion budget deficit without making components of his Illinois Turnaround agenda part of the process. Where Rauner said Democrats are hurting the middle class, Madigan says Rauner's plans for changing workers compensation rules and freezing property taxes would place burdens on the middle class:
The governor has come along and said in addition to working on the elimination of the budget deficit, he wants to bring non-budget issues before the General Assembly. My concern is to the extent that he wants to bring certain non-budget issues and leverage those against the spending plan that I'm talking about, that he's taking this project of eliminating the budget deficit to the extreme. And to the extent that he functions in the extreme he's not helping for the elimination of the budget deficit.
All of this has to happen in moderation. Everyone has to be reasonable.
...I've talked to the governor that when he talks in terms of reducing the benefit level in workers compensation, reducing the standard of living for middle-class families, he's running up against core beliefs by both Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly.
People are elected not to come here and hurt middle-class families. They're sent here to help middle-class families.
(Check out what Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno had to say about their political rivals and the budget talks at Reboot Illinois.)
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