Friday, July 06, 2007

Mounting frustrations


In the morning, a group of representatives and senators from both sides of the aisle wanted to prevent this summer’s fiasco from happening again. In the afternoon, the governor met with Senate Democrats but continued to blame House Democratic leadership for the fiasco.

Lawmakers are agitated because legislative leaders did not meet yesterday or today to discuss the budget, and they’re ready to take action. “These [special] sessions, when we come to Springfield, should not be a waste of time,” Sen. James Meeks said. Meeks wants the legislative leaders and the governor to meet everyday and address the full General Assembly after each meeting. “We need a full account of what happened at each budget meeting,” he said.

Two separate measures have been introduced in the Senate to address further budget stalemate. If both chambers fail to approve a budget by July 1, SB1848 would allow the state to continue funding its obligations at the level of the previous year until a new budget is approved. The second measure, SB1849 would require the governor and all four legislative leaders to include the members of both chambers in budget negotiations on a daily basis.

The governor and the leaders also would have to share where they stand on any given proposal. Budget proposals would have to be posted on the state government website no later than two days after submission for the public to view, and would have to be physically given to legislators five days before it’s called for a vote.

“We expect more transparency and inclusion in the over all budget process,” Sen. Susan Garrett said. “Especially during special session when the tax-payers are footing the bill of $36,000 a day.”

It just so happens the Senate Democrats got their wish, because after both chambers recessed, the governor met with the Senate Democrats in President Emil Jones’ office to discuss funding for education and healthcare. But he was still focused on blaming House leadership for the special session.

“The reason we’re in overtime and special session is because the Democratic Speaker of the House Mr. Madigan has formed a coalition, an alliance, with the conservative Republican leader of the Senate,” Blagojevich said. “The way to be able to finally get budgets that achieve the objectives of healthcare and education for families is to get Mr. Madigan to be a Democrat again and stop being a George Bush Republican.”

The governor also said he is not leaning toward any single solution, but he's determined to make sure increasing education funding and healthcare is a part of the budget.

So far, the House and the Senate is scheduled to meet over the weekend. Stay tuned for more updates to see if the non-binding resolution on whether to support selling the Lottery is called for a vote later today.

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