SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- As the clock ticks toward the deadline for a state budget, House Speaker Michael Madigan says he is on track to pass a Democratic spending plan with a large shortfall, but he's still hopeful he can reach middle ground with Gov. Bruce Rauner.
In an exclusive interview with ABC7, the long-time speaker and rookie governor seem to be miles apart on a budget agreement. But that doesn't faze Madigan, who says he's been there and done that.
"A majority of my time in the legislature has been under Republican governors," Madigan said. "It can be done."
The speaker responded to Gov. Rauner's press release Thursday morning that repeated an opinion that there's a Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton "problem" in Springfield.
"At this time it doesn't help to get into political rhetoric, political name-calling," Madigan said.
The capitol's most powerful Democrat commandeered the budget process from Rauner this week. He announced that he and Cullerton will write a spending plan that's $3 billion short of money needed to pay for it.
"We're not hiding anything. We're not being deceitful," Madigan said. "The governor has his own spending plan. Both plans don't have enough money to be paid for. We need more money to pay for the state's spending plan."
But the governor says no tax increases unless he gets pro-business reforms that Republicans say will rescue the state's sagging economy.
"This Governor was elected by the people to address some of these structural problems we have. I think he's holding firm and I support that," said Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove.
"Charles, those are non-budget issues, non-budget issues," Madigan said.
ABC7's Charles Thomas said: "But the governor has made them so important, so critical."
"This is where I say that it's critical that we not get on the extreme of things, that we move to the center," Madigan said.
The regular legislative session is scheduled to end Sunday at midnight. ABC7 has learned the governor's supporters are considering a campaign-style television blitz to tell Rauner's side and make Mike Madigan the bad guy.
"I've been a Republican target for many, many years. I'm very accustomed to it," Madigan said.
Madigan repeated that his goal during budget negotiations will be to help and protect middle-class families. That's the same purpose we have heard from Rauner and his staff.