Senate returns after Democrats push ahead on 'grand bargain'

Posted May 18, 2017

One was a revenue bill that approves more than $36 billion, but failed to pass a portion that would implement cuts, called the Bimp bill. Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago challenged Republicans during floor debate.

"Do ya think it's going to get any better, seriously?"

A bill to prohibit people from voting in a political party's runoff if they voted in the other party's preceding primary cleared the Legislature this morning.

The action was the culmination of months of talks between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate over a massive budget proposal. Cullerton asked his GOP colleagues.

Previously, the various proposals in the Senate's budget package were linked, meaning that if one measure failed they would all fail. They also approved to borrow 7 billion dollars to pay down the state backlog of bills.

While Cooper campaigned against the bill signed by his predecessor, once in office, some civil rights groups nonetheless criticized the governor for compromising with state Republicans and allowing some of the provisions of HB2 to remain in place. There was bipartisan support on a handful of bills, like to allow more casino licenses and change state purchasing rules. Nor did he call a vote on increasing the personal income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent. "It's got to be a balanced budget".

The idea of the grand bargain was for Democrats and Republicans to come together to meet Gov. Bruce Rauner's demands like a property tax freeze and more business-friendly laws.

Also still to be worked out: changes to the state's workers' compensation system, which Rauner has said are needed to help businesses cut costs so they can create more jobs. They have claimed for weeks they're close to full compromise with the Democrats. But state Rep. Lou Lang said it was "premature to determine whether these bills will become model bills for a final resolution to our issues or whether they will not". Democrats broke the deal apart into pieces and gave republicans an ultimatum take it or leave it. Both sides say they've reached an agreement.