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Illinois Senate President says budget deal could be close

6/28/2017, 7:43 a.m.
The Senates plan is being used as framework.

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Senate President John Cullerton expressed continued optimism that a state budget deal can be reached before the end of the week and prevent Illinois from going another year without a budget.

The Illinois House has begun amending the balanced budget plans the Senate previously approved, and legislative leaders met again Tuesday to try to hammer out a compromise.

“You should know the Senate passed a budget and we have been reconciling that with the House,” Cullerton told reporters after the leaders meeting. “It’s a byproduct of a lot of bipartisan work, and I think it looks like we should have a very good agreement on it.”

The state’s fiscal year runs out on June 30. Illinois has gone two years under Gov. Bruce Rauner without a budget. The Senate approved a balanced budget last month that matches the spending limits the governor proposed. That plan is now pending in the Illinois House.

Below is a rough transcript of the Senate President’s comments with reporters after the meeting.

Senate President Cullerton: Another productive meeting . We talked about the details of the budget. I’m looking forward to having a discussion in the legislature on the budget. You should know the Senate passed a budget and we have been reconciling that with the House. It’s a byproduct of a lot of bipartisan work. And I think it looks like we should have a very good agreement on it.

Q- How different is it from the Senate version?

A- Very close. Very close which is very close to the House- to the Governor’s version that he introduced in Feb.

Q- What about revenue?

A- Revenue, we’re sticking with the Gov’s request for the taxes to not- the partial reinstatement of the tax to be no higher than 4.95

Q- Is the House stripping out the service taxes?

A- Uh, That’s still up in the air, but that was never a big part of our revenue.

Q- So it’s still about $5B in new revenue?

A- I think that is correct.

Q- But it’s still retroactive to January 1?

A- We’re still working on that. That’s a—a we’ll reach an agreement on that. That’s more of a technical issue.

Q- Did you talk about how you were going to pay for the $15B in the backlog of bills?

A- That’s still up in the air. The governor didn’t provide any revenues for that, so that’s still being discussed.

Q- How are you feeling right now? Can you give us a sense of how it went?

A- Very positive meeting. Very productive.

Q- Any idea of how to pay for the first 6 months of this fiscal year?

A- That has to do with when the tax would go into effect. It’s very complicated. We’re talking to the Department of Revenue about it so we’ll get you an answer tomorrow.

Q- Spending cuts, spending cuts?

A- Yeah. There’s a lot of spending cuts in there. $3B or more, that’s right. Just like we did in the Senate bill.

Q- Including universities?

A- Yeah, of course it comes to that. because that’s why we have a balanced budget and that’s why we have a budget that matches the spending levels of the governor.

Q- Is there going to be an agreement between all the caucuses on all these other issues, workers comp, property tax freeze—

A- They’re still negotiating. Most of those negotiations are taking place in the House.

Q- A supermajority and a Governor’s signature. How confident are you about these things?

A- Well, I can’t speak for the governor. All we can do is work with the legislative leaders here and see if we can get something to his desk.

Q- What did the two Republicans say about committing republican votes?

A- It was a very positive meeting.

Q- Why, why is this happening now? After all of the grand bargain stuff, what has finally made this…..

A- July 1st may have something to do with it.