Legislative groups meet on Illinois budget, but General Assembly session canceled

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- The Illinois General Assembly will not meet Wednesday as previous planned after House Speaker Michael Madigan canceled the session. Instead, legislative working groups will meet amid the ongoing budget crisis.

Governor Bruce Rauner addressed a friendly Illinois Chamber of Commerce luncheon and resumed his campaign for the state to fund at least education and essential services beyond July 1, even though he vetoed a bill allocating $3.9 billion for education and human services on Friday, June 10.

"We've got to keep the government running and we've got to make sure our schools open on time. It is essential that we do this," the governor said.

But Democratic Speaker Madigan has cancelled House sessions two weeks in a row, and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton has announced no plan to reconvene his chamber.

"We're 16 days away from an even bigger crisis than this state is facing right now," said Republican State Sen. Christine Radogno.

In a poll commissioned by the online Illinois Observer, the governor would shoulder the lion's share of the blame if schools cannot open because of the budget impasse.

"The big guy who sits in the big chair is the one they see as responsible for that kind of issue," says David Ormsby of the Illinois Observer.

"They can't blame the governor if legislation does not reach his desk. It's up to the Speaker and to the [Senate] President to decide whether or not they want to open up schools on time," countered Republican State Rep. Jim Durkin.

But Madigan says calling lawmakers back to Springfield would interrupt ongoing bipartisan negotiations on a full budget. Democratic State Treasurer Mike French agreed.

"I think both sides need to come together and worth this out, but you need to focus first on the budget," French said.

"We should not delay. We should not drag out the process," Rauner said.

Rauner is convinced Democrats will not consider a full budge that includes his controversial pro-business, union-weakening reforms until after the election. He wants lawmakers back in Springfield as soon as possible.

"Reach out to your elected officials. Ask them to vote to get the schools open. Ask them to vote to fund our human services. Now is the time. We've got to take these votes," said Rauner.

Rauner says he will not call a special session, fearing Democrats would not call votes if they were forced back to the capitol. He wants Madigan and Cullerton to make the decisions on their own.

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