By Jamey Dunn with Lauren Johnson contributing
After closing a two-year legislative session marked by the impeachment of a governor and a budget crisis, legislators reflected on the past as they welcomed the newly elected members to the 97th General Assembly.
During his speech at the House inauguration, held on the University of Illinois Springfield campus, Speaker Michael Madigan recalled three historic events that occurred during the 96th General Assembly: the election of President Barack Obama, the impeachment and removal from office of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the nation tumbling into an economic collapse. “Those three events, in the very beginning of the two-year period, greatly influenced the actions and considerations taken by the legislature,” Madigan said.
During a ceremony in the Senate chambers at the Capitol, Senate President John Cullerton congratulated his colleagues for addressing issues such as pension reform and new revenues during the previous session.
"I believe that we in the Senate have created a workplace of cooperation and bipartisanship in the last two years. Even though you may not agree with all that we’ve done, you would have to admit we’ve had the most productive session that Illinois has witnessed in decades,” Cullerton said.
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said after the swearing-in ceremony that she was encouraged by the general attitude of cooperation in the Senate during the last legislative session and wants to continue an “atmosphere in the Senate” that is “conducive to problem solving.”
Although the relationship between Democratic and Republican leadership in the House cannot typically be described as friendly, House Minority Leader Tom Cross encouraged the newly sworn-in lawmakers to keep their discussions during the new session both “civil and respectful.”