By John Dempsey, WLS News
Rauner signs education stopgap; GOP leader predicts budget deal “by the end of May.”
Governor Bruce Rauner has signed a bill to provide $600 million in emergency assistance to Illinois colleges and universities, the first sign of a possible easing of the months-long legislative logjam between Rauner and Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.
As he signed the bill, Rauner said “This legislation doesn’t solve our budget crisis or help our economy grow, but it does represent a first step toward compromise between Democrats and Republicans. Now is the time to build on this bipartisan momentum and focus on enacting a truly balanced budget for Fiscal Years 2016-2017 alongside meaningful reforms that create jobs and free up resources for education, social services and infrastructure.”
Before Rauner signed Senate Bill 2059, Illinois House Republican leader Jim Durkin (R) Western Springs, told “The Big John Howell Show” on WLS that he thinks the budget standoff can end by the end of May.
“I’m hopeful we can have an FY (fiscal year) 16 and FY 17 budget that we can accomplish by the end of May. We have members that are now saying ‘Enough’s enough. Let’s get this done.'”
Durkin is basing his optimism on last week’s bipartisan agreement on the education funding bill that Rauner signed this morning.
“I am hopeful, I mean I’m gonna be optimistic” Durkin told WLS. ” We finally had some movement within the last week where we had a bipartisan solution to a very serious problem, that is our higher-ed budget.
However Durkin’s Republican Senate counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R) Lemont, does not necessarily share his optimism.
On the Senate floor on Friday, Radogno said “These stopgap measures relieve some pressure, but we still have a lot of work to do and we shouldn’t break our arms patting ourselves on the back with this measure.”
Also powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan said Friday, “Only time will tell if Governor Rauner has further intentions of destroying our State institutions and human service providers.”
Madigan and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner are locked in a power struggle over Rauner’s plan to impose union-weakening business reforms, which Madigan says would destroy the middle class.
However despite Madigan’s comment, Durkin tells WLS “We had a leader’s meeting a few weeks back. First time in many months. And I felt that meeting was the most productive meeting we’ve had in over a year, which we actually agreed on things, things that we talked about privately. And we have certain things going on in Springfield that are meant to solve the budget.”
Here’s the interview on “The Big John Howell” show:
@ WLS-AM 890 News, 2016