Madigan turns tables, calls Rauner the budget hostage-taker
House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) told a bipartisan group of General Assembly leaders on Sunday night that Gov. Bruce Rauner has kidnapped the Illinois budget-making process.
“I reiterated to the other leaders my firm belief that Gov. Rauner have unjustifiably held hostage the budget-making in order to achieve his extreme right agenda,” Madigan said. “What he has really done is to hold hostage people who in Illinois depend upon state funding for autism services, people who depend upon the state for breast cancer screenings, child abuse prevention and sexual assault victims. That is what he has done.”
Although Madigan said the meeting went well with Senate Majority Leader John Cullerton (D-Chicago), Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), it came as a surprise to hear Madigan accuse Rauner of strong-arming, since one of the most common criticisms of the speaker is that he holds an iron grip on the legislative process in Illinois.
Madigan and Democrats have the majority control in the Senate and House and therefore determine to a large extent what measures get approved and sent to Rauner.
Rauner enacted the current 10-day ongoing special legislative session after lawmakers failed to reach a budget agreement at the end of the regular spring session on May 31. As of Monday, they have five days to complete the task before fiscal year 2018 begins on Saturday.
Madigan has also been accused of putting his interests before the state and withholding important legislation to pursue his own agenda. He, however, said on Sunday that the Republicans he spoke to were not as focused on the budget as they should be.
“Going beyond that, we talked about we can resolve these differences, and Republican leaders are continuing to talk about off-budget issues, which prompted me to tell them that I would add items to the off-budget list,” Madigan said.
One of Madigan's priorities is Senate Bill 1, an education funding reform measure that would allegedly provide equitable funding to Illinois schools. He also wants to establish a workers’ compensation rate monitoring initiative that would keep a check on premium rates.
He asked that Rauner provide more transparency on a push to revamp the Medicaid program before again claiming that the governor is blocking a budget.
“He’s attempting to enact an extreme right-wing agenda on the people of Illinois,” Madigan said. “He’s held hostage the budget-making.”
Rauner had not released a response before press time.
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