House Speaker Mike Madigan

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate in Springfield as Illinois approaches the end of two years without a budget. Both sides are narrowing their focus.

Republicans are emphasizing three issues: lowering the cost of workers’ compensation; cutting state pensions; and freezing property taxes.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said that, if Democrats try to water down changes in those areas, he’ll have a hard time winning support for a budget deal.

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

The top Democrats and Republicans of the Illinois General Assembly met Sunday for the first time this year, and there are some signs of progress.

House Speaker Michael Madigan has consistently objected to Gov. Bruce Rauner making his political and economic agenda a prerequisite for passing a budget. At Sunday's meeting, Madigan said Republicans were still talking about what he calls “off-budget” issues. That, he said, “prompted me to add items to the off-budget list.”

@TED SCHURTER / STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER

Could a reborn Mushroom Caucus be the key to breaking the political impasse that has the financial health of Illinois at death’s doorstep?

The self-deprecatory moniker was coined a generation ago by a group of legislative backbenchers who complained they were kept in the dark by their leaders and fed horse (manure).

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has called state legislators back to Springfield this week to begin 10 special sessions through the end of June.

 

He says he wants a budget deal, but he also is spending money attacking Democrats. The attacks have come in at least three forms: online ads, direct mail, and TV commercials.

 

State Sen. Daniel Biss wants to beat Bruce Rauner in next year’s gubernatorial election. 

However, the Evanston Democrat doesn’t blame all of the state’s problems on the Republican incumbent. At a Champaign event, he said the Democrats who came before Rauner didn't fix what he considers an unfair tax system. 

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