Shortly after budget meeting, Madigan delivers blistering speech against Rauner
Senate President John Cullerton drew applause Tuesday when he told an audience that all four legislative leaders and Gov. Bruce Rauner would meet later that afternoon to discuss the state budget.
“We’re going to talk about the budget, so that’s encouraging,” Cullerton said during an appearance at the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Employer Action Day in Springfield. At a press briefing afterward, Cullerton said he did not anticipate Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda, which has divided Rauner and Democrats, would be part of the discussion. “Well, it’s a meeting. Let’s just get in the room and find out, to discuss the budget. That in itself is news, right?”
A few hours after the meeting, House Speaker Michael Madigan took to the House floor and delivered perhaps the most incendiary speech against Rauner’s governance to date. For nearly a year, Madigan regularly has accused Rauner of taking an “extreme” approach to budget negotiations by trying to use his reform agenda as leverage. On the House floor Tuesday, Madigan accused Rauner of negotiating in bad faith and of planning for years to force a state government shutdown if he got the chance.
“Gov. Rauner has refused to put an end to the crisis. Some of his remarks from recent years clearly indicate that this has been his plan from the very beginning,” Madigan said.
He then read from a transcript of Rauner’s remarks at the Tazewell County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner in March 2013.
“‘If we have to do what Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers, if we sort of have to do a do-over and shut things down for a little while, like universities and social service providers, that’s what we’re going to do,’” Madigan said, quoting Rauner. In 1981, Reagan fired more than 11,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization after they went out on strike.
Madigan singled out Rauner among all the governors with whom he has worked — six during his 30 years as House Speaker — as the only one unwilling to compromise.
“Differences with governors is not something that is new to me. Nor is it something that has prevented me from working with governors of both political parties for the good of the people of Illinois in passing state budgets,” Madigan said. “Over 30 years I have worked with six governors from both political parties. Twice as many Republicans as Democrats… I have had differences with all the governors I have worked with including governors of my own party… Many of you will recall the very strong differences I had with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. However, we found a way to compromise. My record over the years is one of compromise…”
Madigan’s speech resoundingly negated any hope that had emerged in recent days that he and Rauner might be moving toward some agreement on a budget. The state has had no control on spending since Fiscal Year 2016 began last July 1 and automatic and court-ordered spending is moving the state toward a projected $10 billion deficit by June 30.
Madigan’s speech preceded a vote on a Democrat-sponsored bill to appropriate $3.9 billion for higher education funding and social services that have not been paid since July 1. The bill authorizes spending but does not provide a source of revenue for the spending, and Republicans, as has happened repeatedly on similar bills, were sharply critical.
Immediately before Madigan’s speech, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin urged an end to both the heated rhetoric and votes on bills that spend non-existent funds.
“Having votes like this does not move the ball forward. But as I said earlier, I am willing to stop the heated rhetoric…,” Durkin said. “That is not what the public wants anymore. They want us to find solutions in a collaborative manner. I will do that. I will stop the rhetoric. I hope that you can as well. I hope we can slow down these ‘gotcha’ votes that we’ve been seeing for many, many months so we can get to the business at hand.”