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State

Illinois governor calls special session to force budget deal

Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register via AP File)
Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks in the Illinois House chamber in Springfield, Ill. on Jan. 25, 2017. Illinois Gov. Rauner has called state legislators back to the state Capitol for a 10-day special session starting next week to hammer out a budget deal and end an unprecedented impasse that could soon enter a third year. The Republican announced the news Thursday, June 15, 2017 in a Facebook video and statement.
Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register via AP File) Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks in the Illinois House chamber in Springfield, Ill. on Jan. 25, 2017. Illinois Gov. Rauner has called state legislators back to the state Capitol for a 10-day special session starting next week to hammer out a budget deal and end an unprecedented impasse that could soon enter a third year. The Republican announced the news Thursday, June 15, 2017 in a Facebook video and statement.

CHICAGO – Gov. Bruce Rauner has called state legislators back to the Capitol for a special session starting next week to hammer out a budget deal and end an unprecedented impasse that could enter a third year.

In a Thursday Facebook video and statement, the Republican accused majority Democrats of “ignoring” his long-term recommendations to fix the state’s massive financial problems.

“We have tough urgent choices to make, and the Legislature must be present to make them,” he said. “We have little time to change the direction of our state to come together around a budget compromise that creates a brighter future for all the families in Illinois.”

Democrats rejected Rauner’s statements Thursday, saying they’ve presented viable options.

Lawmakers adjourned last month without a deal before a critical May 31 deadline, triggering the need for a three-fifths majority vote instead of a majority on a budget agreement. There are options on the table, including a Senate-backed plan and another presented this week by Republicans.

The special session could run up to 10 days with dates set from June 21 to 30. The new fiscal year starts July 1.

The back-and-forth is a repeat of the past two years in Springfield, with both sides blaming each other for the stalemate – the longest of any U.S. state.

The first-term governor has called for pro-business reforms since he took office in 2015, saying they should happen in conjunction with a budget and an income tax increase. Democrats have said some of those ideas hurt the middle class and they’ve taken up many others, including workers’ compensation reform. Republicans have said the attempts fall short. In the meantime, pressure has been mounting to reach a deal.

Credit ratings agencies have threatened further downgrades to the state’s lowest-in-the-nation rating without a state spending plan. On Thursday, Illinois Lottery officials said the state might get dropped by the end of the month from Powerball and Mega Millions games without a budget.

House Speaker Michael Madigan said Democrats have worked to find common ground from the beginning, but Rauner has refused.

“House Democrats will continue our work on the budget from Springfield,” Madigan said in a statement. “But as Governor Rauner has met each of our attempts to date with refusal, it’s clear that the onus is on the governor to show that he is finally serious about working in good faith to end the crisis he has manufactured.”

Senate President John Cullerton’s spokesman John Patterson said the Senate budget – a $37 billion spending plan with cuts and an income tax increase – draws on Rauner’s ideas. He said the Senate wants the governor to “finish the job.”

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