Illinois budget impasse approaching 3rd year

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Time is ticking for a budget in Illinois, and state lawmakers say they're cautiously optimistic about a deal.

Springfield has until May 31 to come up with a budget; otherwise the impasse will continue into a third year. With an election year coming up sooner rather than later, both sides are eager to get something done. Monday, the governor even had some good news to report about revenue.

While has spent months talking about a broken Illinois losing jobs and residents, Governor Bruce Rauner Monday took credit for bringing more people into the state: tourists.

"We have added $106 million of new tax revenue through tourism this past year, 20,000 tourist-related jobs in the last two years," Rauner said.

But the tourism industry isn't nearly enough to help solve the state's budget woes. With a budget impasse nearly two years old, lawmakers in Springfield have a mere three weeks left in their session to get something done.

"I've encouraged the senators to keep working and to come to a truly balanced budget with changes so we can keep our budget balanced," Rauner said.

With the goal of compromise, House Speaker Michael Madigan appointed four lawmakers to yet another budget working group, including majority leader Barbara Flynn Currie.

"So we four are tasked by the Speaker to express our willingness to go on talking about these issues that matter to the governor that are not budgetary issues, they're off budget," Flynn Currie said.

While Democrats say they are willing to consider Rauner reforms such as workman's comp or property tax freezes as part of a budget deal, they will not budge on union reforms.

"He wants to break the unions, we can't do that," said State Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-3rd District).

"We are trying to demonstrate every way we can that we are serious about compromising, governing and moving the state forward. I think the governor feels like it's better politics to let the state burn and blame the Democrats for it," said State Rep. Wil Guzzardi (D-39th District).

The budget crisis has left many social service agencies trying to operate without state money. House Democrats plant his week to pass a lifeline budget that would provide money for higher education and social programs such as Meals On Wheels. House Democrats are hoping the Senate follows suit in passing the budget, but it remains unclear if Governor Rauner would sign it.
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