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Cullerton reacts to leaders' meeting with governor (VIDEO)

jjc leaders 041218

Emerging from a meeting with Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders, Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton said Thursday that early state budget talks had taken positive steps forward.

Speaking to reporters, Cullerton said the governor acknowledged the revenue coming in from the state’s existing tax rates. Lawmakers were asked to agree to how much money they state has to spend, something that has traditionally signalled the beginning of state budget negotiations.

The Senate President also renewed his request that the governor release millions of dollars for mental health programs to help protect community safety. These programs were funded in the budget lawmakers enacted, but the governor refuses to release the money.

The push for mental health funding comes as the Senate President also asked the governor to sign a law extending the waiting period for buying assault weapons to 72 hours. That proposed law was approved by lawmakers with veto-proof majorities and has been on Rauner’s desk for nearly a month.

These requests to the governor for action follow a recent op-ed penned by the Senate President (made in a recent op-ed.)

During the meeting Thursday, the governor also asked lawmakers for more spending authority for the Department of Corrections, which apparently is in the midst of financial desperation. That was the subject of a Senate budget hearing on Wednesday.

Here are the president's remarks to reporters: