Jim Durkin

Springfield’s top political leaders are continuing to meet in private as the clock runs down on Illinois’ budget year.

The House and Senate leaders — Democratic and Republican — went all year without sitting down together. That changed Sunday, and they've been meeting regularly since. They also have been coming out and holding news conferences to complain about each other — until yesterday, when they went quiet.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin gave a brief comment in the Statehouse rotunda.

Illinois Democrats took another step in budget negotiations Tuesday, proposing a spending plan for state government.

House Speaker Michael Madigan acknowledged it won’t meet every request of Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“But I think that it goes a long way toward giving the state of Illinois a good solid spending plan that responds to the real needs of the state," he said, "and, significantly, is below the level of the governor’s introduced budget."

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.”

M. Spencer Green/AP

Tougher sentences for repeat gun offenders passed the Illinois House by a 70-41 vote Monday.

The bill says if you're convicted of a gun crime more than once, then you face up to 14 years in prison.

The measure, intended to help curb violence in Chicago, won approval after a contentious two-hour debate.

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