From the State Capitol: After months of behind the scenes negotiations between Senate President Cullerton and Senate Republican Leader Radogno, the first week of March was supposed to be the week a budget would emerge from the Senate, and point a way to a bipartisan agreement to Illinois’ now two-year stalemate that’s stopped any budget from being passed. The hope was, if the legislation would pass the Senate, the House would return and take the package up, with added pressure coming from the “Grand Bargain” having passed the Senate.
But as the votes came down on Wednesday afternoon in the Senate, Republican senators were not following the lead of their Leader, Sen Christine Radogno, who had worked with Senator Cullerton to form the basis of the “Grand Bargain” legislative package, that was being voted on.
That package, a collection of 16 bills, were being voted on, but it became clear that many would not pass, due to Republican senators opposition. Democrat Senators say they felt betrayed by the votes against the package, as they were lead to believe the Republicans had agreed to put enough votes on the bills to pass them. But as the votes came, it was clear the Republican members were still in opposition to the bills as written.
With that reality, Senate President Cullerton cancelled bringing the rest of the bills to the floor for a vote, telling reporters later, that there was no point bring bills up to be voted down.
Appearing at a press conference later, Sen Andy Manar, Sen Don Harmon, and Sen Heather Steans blamed the Republican opposition to interference by Gov Rauner, with Sen Andy Manar issuing a statement that read:
“How many times will the state’s great negotiator slam the door on opportunities to negotiate? He’s refused to negotiate a state budget for two years. Now he won’t allow Republican senators to negotiate a state budget in the best interest of their constituents. And he refuses to negotiate a contract with thousands of state workers.
“They say that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. I think that in light of today’s developments we can say without a doubt that Governor Rauner is the problem. He doesn’t want a budget. He wants to control everyone around him. That’s not how this works.”
Republican senators also spoke to the press and said they were very close to voting for the agreement, but needed a few more changes before they could go along with the legislation.