Political theater on House floor; Dems meet to discuss budget

SPRINGFIELD — There was more political theater on the Illinois House floor on Thursday — and some behind-the-scenes action — as House Democrats met privately to try to plug ahead with budget measures cleared by the Illinois Senate.

Senate Democrats on Tuesday passed three budgetary measures, including a spending plan and a revenue bill that would increase the income tax rate. House Democrats began analyzing the bills a day later. There are just six days left before the end of the legislative session.

On Thursday, State Rep. Steven Andersson, R-Geneva, implored House Democrats to stop launching accusations over whether or not the governor is willing to meet with them, and to instead forge ahead in compromising on a spending plan and revenue package.

House Democrats have painted Gov. Bruce Rauner as unwilling to meet with a group appointed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has taken a behind-the-scenes role in budget negotiations amid a political war with the governor, with rank-and-file members taking a more public role.

That was reiterated on the House floor on Wednesday by Assistant Majority Leader Jay Hoffman of Collinsville, one of four appointed to the “negotiating group.” But the governor’s office said there have been offers to meet with House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, privately. And there was another attempt by phone Thursday to try to arrange a meeting with her, the governor’s office said.

“The finances of the state of Illinois are in crisis and we must do better. So, now it’s our turn. It’s not the time to debate who last invited whom to the table. It’s time to file that question away permanently. Just come to the table. It is our time for our leaders and our rank and file to meet and negotiate this to completion,” Andersson said.

Andersson said there are sincere efforts on both sides of the aisle to get a budget: “It appears that the Senate was very close. Let’s pick up where they…

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