Senators react to governor’s call for special session

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Gov. Rauner announced this week that he will call lawmakers back to Springfield for a 10-day special session from June 21 to June 30, the final day of the fiscal year, to resolve numerous issues related to the state budget stalemate that he failed to address before we adjourned May 31.

Senate President John J. Cullerton said in response to the governor’s call for a special session that the Senate has already done the job of passing a balanced budget.

“I will remind everyone that the Illinois Senate has been in session the last six months and produced a balanced budget plan that was approved and sent to the Illinois House,” Cullerton said. “I’m not sure where Governor Rauner was during the first half of the year, but the Senate did his work and balanced his spending plan using the numbers and tax rate he wanted."

Several senators pointed out that the late action by the governor comes at a cost to taxpayers.

“The governor’s stalling on a budget deal isn’t just frustrating – it’s costly. The special session will cost taxpayers nearly $48,000 a day, totaling almost $480,000 over the 10-day session,” said Senator Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat. “At a time when the state owes $15 billion in unpaid bills, this is hardly money we can afford to spend.”

“All of a sudden because the governor is finally getting some heat for his two-plus years of not governing, he is going to cost the tax payers thousands of dollars to pull us back into session and try to coerce us into supporting his non-compromise budget? This is ridiculous,” said Senator Linda Holmes of Aurora.

Raoul also expressed frustration at the governor’s call for urgency after months of inaction.

“What I wonder is why Governor Rauner seems to be in such a hurry now. Where was he last month? Where were the Republicans last month when we took difficult votes to pass a budget that will allow us to pay our bills on time?” Raoul said.

Senator Laura Murphy of Des Plaines said she is willing to negotiate a balanced budget with the governor any time or any place.

““The budget plan we put together includes $3 billion in cuts and many of the reforms he initially proposed. It’s disappointing that during those negotiations he was traveling the state on a campaign tour,” Murphy said. “Hopefully now the governor will begin to take his job seriously and join us to negotiate a balanced budget that protects colleges and universities, services for the most vulnerable citizens of our society and provides stability for small businesses and our entire state.

Senator David Koehler, a Peoria Democrat, said he takes the governor’s claim that he is ready to negotiate with a grain of salt.

“Almost one month ago, the Illinois Senate passed a balanced budget with meaningful reforms the governor has demanded. We adjusted those reforms more than 30 times to appease the changing demands of the governor, yet still he asks for more,” Koehler said. “I remain committed to working with my Republican colleagues to end this impasse before more people suffer. However, I will remain suspicious of anything this governor demands until he demonstrates that he is willing to negotiate in good faith.”

Senator Iris Martinez of Chicagoreminds the governor his intransigence has put Illinois in the position it is in now.

“The governor has not done his job and is about time he does it. The Senate passed a balanced budget  and reforms he demanded to end the kidnapping he’s done to our state. Today, the governor called the General Assembly to go back to Springfield for a special session and pass a fiscal package. I am ready to respond to his call for the wellbeing of the people of Illinois, but it’s important to remember that the Senate already completed this part of the job, while the Governor has not. Bruce Rauner must understand that his lack of vision has put Illinois in the fiscal crisis we are. It is in his hands and lawmakers of his party to negotiate in good faith to reach a compromise. Those extreme-intransigent positions he has shown so far will only extend the pain to thousands of residents in our state. It’s time he stops playing politics and honors his responsibilities. The Senate and I are ready to act with responsibility, just as we have done so far.”