Rauner, Dems hold dueling press briefings on state budget impasse

Rauner, Dems hold dueling press briefings on state budget impasse

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Democrats seemed to be talking right past each other in Tuesday press conferences about progress on Illinois' nearly 2-year-old budget impasse.

Four assistant Democratic leaders held a press conference to say that they're willing to act on Rauner's nonbudget items, but also threw their own nonbudget items into the mix, including closing corporate tax loopholes and creating an Insurance Rate Review Board to prevent insurers from unfairly charging consumers.

"House Democrats and many in the Senate as well have been saying for two years that it's irresponsible to hold up the budget of the state of Illinois over nonbudgetary issues," said Democratic Leader Lou Lang of Skokie. "Nevertheless, here we are about two weeks before the end of our scheduled session and we feel we have to do something to get this thing moving along."

If the governor wants to negotiate with them, said Lang, "the four of us will go scurrying to the second floor to have whatever meetings the governor wishes to have."

But Rauner, in a separate appearance, said that the "House Democrats under Speaker Madigan have shown really no good-faith willingness to engage in negotiations for true change, true reforms to our system."

He said he believed "this is probably a last-minute attempt to create a distraction and derail the senators who seem to be making progress and coming close to an agreement."

He praised Senate Republicans and Democrats for "working on the right issues," which he defined as term limits, a property-tax freeze, government consolidation, pension reform and school funding reform.

"We're not people who are hostile to any changes in current systems, whether that has to do with worker's comp or property taxes, economic development. We're open to ideas," said Leader Barbara Flynn Currie of Chicago.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats said they hoped to try again today to call for a floor vote on a new budget deal that would include severe budget cuts and tax increases.

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