Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner revealed Wednesday that he has been meeting regularly with Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.
During an interview with The Southern Illinoisan Editorial Board, the Republican governor said he has been making progress with Madigan, D-Chicago, and he has recently met with Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago.
Rauner speaks with Cullerton "fairly regularly.”
When Cullerton met Aug. 31 with the Editorial Board, he said there weren’t any meetings happening between the governor and the speaker.
On Wednesday, Rauner said he is optimistic that there could be vote on a proposed budget by January.
“That is my sense, but I don’t know. It could be sooner. It could be later. But that is my best guess at the moment,” he said. “I hope that the people around the state can stay persistent and we can together find way to minimize the damage not having a state budget can cause.”
Rauner wouldn’t disclose what has been said in those meetings and would not get into specifics.
Also Wednesday, Rauner met with residents in Marion at the Cultural and Civic Center at an event hosted by the Marion Chamber of Commerce.
When he arrived about 12:45 p.m., he was greeted with a loud round of boos.
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AFSCME Local 2464 Union Spokesman Jeremy Noelle said the group of union workers, including carpenters, sheet metal workers and plumbers were not allowed to attend the event.
Noelle said the workers were not aware they needed to RSVP for the event.
“We just want to see what this is all about,” Noelle said. “He is coming into our community, so we want to see what he is talking about now.”
Rauner told the crowd that he was frustrated over the budget mess, but there has to be massive change to the system in order to fix Springfield's problems.
“We need major structural reform,” Rauner said. “When people say, ‘Governor, just do a budget’ … what that means for most everybody that says it is just do a massive tax hike.”
He said that'd be a huge mistake for residents. Plus, it could cause several businesses to leave the state.
Rauner also hit major platforms, such as local control, which would give local governments the power to decide what topics will, or won't, be subject to collective bargaining with its employees.
The governor also talked about the need for legislative term limits — which got a good chuckle from the crowd and Marion Mayor Bob Butler.
In order to have more competitive races, Rauner also called for redistricting of the state legislative districts.
“I am upset because we don’t have a budget,” Rauner said. “There is no reason we can’t have this done. We should have had this done months ago.”