Sen. Stadelman Says Democrats Need to Take Lead on Budget Shortfall

EYEWITNESS NEWS CAPITOL BUREAU -- Democratic lawmakers in the senate say they’ve had enough with delay to fix budget shortfalls and are seeking an alternative solution.

Two weeks have passed since Governor Bruce Rauner (R-Illinois) and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) said they were days away from an agreement to solve imminent budget shortfalls. The agreement would have given Rauner authority to fix shortfalls left by last year's budget. Since that hasn't come to fruition, Democrats in the Senate passed a bill out of committee Tuesday to fix million dollar deficits in state daycare programs and prisons.

State senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) said the move by Democrats is nothing but political gamesmanship.

“The senate Democrats yesterday decided to go rogue and walk away from those negotiations and file a bill that doesn't have the support of anybody else involved,” Murphy said.

Republicans want to give Rauner emergency budget powers to fill in the multiple deficits left by an incomplete budget passed last summer. They say moving this alternative spending measure could set negotiations giving the governor emergency powers even further back.

"It's a distraction from the negotiations that need to occur for the comprehensive solution to be brought together," Murphy said.

Murphy, a designated for the Republicans, said Democrats created the fiscal mess in the first place when they didn’t guarantee enough money last year. The current budget was based on the idea the state income tax increase would not expire.

"The governor is trying to solve a problem they created,” he said. “He needs their help to do that.”

Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) said they can’t wait forever on negotiations with the governor.

"I think the problem has been going on too long.” Stadelman said. “We need a resolution right now.”

But if the senate bill passed, it would still require another bill giving Rauner the authority to move money around. Stadelman said the decision to move in an alternate route isn’t walking away from the governor. He hopes it will push negotiations further along.

"Negotiations are ongoing and senate Democrats will still be a part of that," Stadelman said.

Governor Rauner’s Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Schrimpf called the measure ‘half baked’ because it doesn’t solve the overall crisis. As for granting Rauner emergency budget powers, formal negotiations have only involved staffers, not lawmakers.

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