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“Nothing’s more important for a governor than having a good budget because that allows you to manage the state to do your job.”

Let that recent quote from former Gov. Jim Edgar, as reported by the (Springfield) State Journal-Register, sink in for a bit.

The budget passed last year over Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto was not a “good budget” because the governor’s budget office wasn’t directly involved. Legislators simply don’t have the expertise to pass a good budget without the governor’s help. The executive branch has experts who know what the agencies and programs need because they are involved with this issue every day.

And so the governor and his administration have been struggling ever since last July to implement a budget that it had almost nothing to do with.

Whether the governor believes he will be re-elected or not, the very least he can do is provide some stability going forward by finally doing what every governor before him has done: Negotiate and sign a workable budget.

House Speaker Michael Madigan told his caucus last week that he believes the governor wants an overtime session so he can blame the resulting gridlock on the Democrats. But Madigan told his House Democrats that he believes voters will blame both sides. This was taken by some of his members as a sign that Madigan finally realizes he needs to get something done one way or another. We’ll see. That assessment could be overly optimistic.

The budgeteers met via teleconference last week and not a word was said about the governor’s repeated demands for an “official” revenue estimate. Instead, they reportedly had a fairly productive discussion about various pension ideas. So, that’s a good sign. The revenue estimate demand was a giant red herring used for political and disruptive purposes.

The Democrats appear to have gamed out the end of the spring session if they can’t do a deal with the governor for whatever reason.

Money for the Quincy veterans’ home and cash-strapped prisons, universities, etc., will all be put into the appropriations bills to entice Republicans onto the legislation. Some of the Republicans who broke ranks last year may not vote for the legislation when it passes, but may vote for it during the override motion.

It’s abundantly clear from his public and private remarks that Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady wants a negotiated budget deal. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, meanwhile, has solidly allied himself with the governor, both in public and reportedly during the leaders’ meetings.

Durkin badly needs Rauner’s money to fund his campaigns against Speaker Madigan this fall. But this alliance can also help move things along if Rauner’s staunch ally Durkin eventually informs the governor that he needs to cut a deal for the good of the state or face yet another stinging defeat. That worked last year on the education funding reform bill.

Whatever happens, it’s long past time that the governor do whatever he can to put together a “good budget” for his state.


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