Governor Bruce Rauner took an unprecedented step in Illinois politics on Wednesday by announcing that he was considering paying for a special session of the General Assembly, should one become necessary to solve the state’s budget impasse.
Rauner, who has been locked into a budget fight with Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton for over three hundred days, told reporters at Auburn High School that he believed the budget impasse could be solved within a few weeks.
The first-term Republican governor says that he would like to see the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years combined into one budget in “a grand compromise” that includes at least part of his much-maligned Turnaround Agenda. Democratic lawmakers have so far refused to consider that agenda, saying that the overall theme was to weaken the middle class in Illinois. Rauner pointed to a bipartisan compromise last week that produced about $600M in emergency funding for Illinois colleges and universities, as well as tuition assistance, as an example of what he believes is a greater willingness by both sides of the aisle in Springfield to get things done.
Rauner told reporters that, if a special session of the legislature becomes necessary, his administration will “deal with it at the time” and he doesn’t want taxpayers to have to pay for it. The governor went as far as to say that he was looking into paying for that special session out of his own pocket.
Conservative estimates place the cost of a special session of the legislature in Illinois at approximately $46,000 per day.