Radogno defends 'grand bargain' against mounting opposition
Even with criticism directed at her by many in her own party, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) remains convinced she has the support of her caucus in her “grand bargain” push that could end Illinois’ nearly two-year budget impasse.
On the same day Senate members convened for a much-needed cooling-off period following several days of intense negotiations, Radogno took to the debate floor and delivered a pep talk of sorts to beleaguered colleagues, letting them know she has no plans of letting up in her pursuit.
“There will be a lot of pressure when you go home, don’t succumb to that,” she said.
Radogno knows all about rising pressure. The budget proposal she and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) have crafted calls for raising income and corporate taxes as well as billions more in additional borrowing, none of which are traditional Republican principles.
Embracing such a plan has earned her a fierce rebuke from many of her party colleagues.
Republican Sen. Kyle McCarter previously told reporters that he is “offended and insulted” by the idea of even more taxes being heaped on the people of the country’s most-taxed state.
Beyond labeling Radogno’s efforts “misguided,” he added that “the problem is people on both sides of the aisle are getting very creative on how they can tax people more instead of making tough choices.”
State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) took on the added task of penning an opinion piece in the DuPage Policy Journal, where she branded Radogno and Cullerton “out of touch with taxpayers here in Illinois.”
Ives went on to describe the recent marathon negotiating sessions in the name of brokering more tax increases as clear-cut instances of the inmates running the asylum -- all while stressing her belief that the same leaders who put the state in its current hole are now the ones proposing all the faulty ideas for its rescue.
And still Radogno remains unbowed.
“This effort is becoming more real, not unraveling,” she said of a plan that also calls for changes to legalized gambling and workers’ compensation guidelines. “Let’s keep moving forward and talking to each other. It is hard, none of us will like all of it at end, but we have to do reforms. The people want our state to be proud again.”
In a strategic effort to move the ball as quickly and Radogno's and Cullerton’s early negotiating sessions have not included either Gov. Bruce Rauner or House Speaker Michael Madigan, both of whom have been embroiled in a bitter stalemate that has sometimes turned personal.
Throughout their simmering standoff, Rauner has insisted that including changes to lower workers’ compensation costs -- as well as language to weaken unions and lower property taxes -- be part of any compromise, all measures that Madigan has rejected as nonstarters for the purposes of balancing the state’s budget.