Senate votes on several items from grand bargain package


Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks at an event. Rauner has shown support for the state senate’s Grand Bargain plan.

Nora Shelly, City Editor

Illinois state senators voted Tuesday on several measures included in a “grand bargain” package of bills intended to end the state budget impasse.

It was the first of several days of voting on the bills, which include measures to raise the income tax and increase and institute pension reform. Bills passed Tuesday include a measure to consolidate local governments, shore up Chicago Public Schools pensions, fund some state services for the rest of the fiscal year and expand gambling opportunities in the state.

A pension reform bill did not pass, but was place on delayed consideration and may be voted on by the Senate in the future.

Sen. President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), who authored the package of bills with Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said in a statement Monday the time to act is now.

“It’s time to cut a deal,” he said. “Illinois is losing jobs, losing futures and losing opportunities … This week, we have a chance to show people that we care about more than politics. We have a chance to show people that we are up to the job and that we do indeed care about the future of this state.”

During floor voting Tuesday, several senators voiced hesitation on the package, which was first proposed in early January in hopes it would be passed before the new legislature was sworn in on Jan. 11. However, continuing disagreements have delayed action on the matter.

The bills are written so that none may be implemented if all are not passed. Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) said that having the bills linked together forced him to vote no on bills he would have normally approved. Brady said he disapproved of the overall package.

“The fact that these bills are tied together, and that some of them are not yet agreed to … I will be, for that reason, voting against some of these bills,” he said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has voiced support for the package, but has urged Senate leaders to include a property tax freeze to complement a proposed income tax hike. The plan was a sign of “real progress,” he said in his budget address earlier this month.

“Democrats and Republicans are now thinking anew,” Rauner said. “For the first time, legislators from both parties are standing together to say that Illinois must have structural change.”

The Senate will be back in session Thursday.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @noracshelly