Rauner: Expect a very long extra session

Gov. Bruce Rauner and lawmakers were doing battle in April 2015 over a state budget created in May 2014.

That's something to keep in mind as Illinois Republicans and Democrats get ready to enter the "final" week of their annual scheduled session in Springfield.

The specter of possible big cutbacks has mobilized suburban mayors, school leaders and taxpayers to pay more attention than usual to the state's spending plan.

It might be a long haul for them. If the Democratic majority in the coming days sends Rauner a spending plan he has not agreed to, the governor could be left with tough decisions over what gets funded that will continue throughout the year.

Meanwhile, the budget wrangling continues.

"Somebody's got to go forward with a budget, so that's what we're trying to do," Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, told The Associated Press.

Rauner needs support from some Democrats to win approval for his policy agenda, and if they're going along without him on the budget, he might lose a key point of leverage. He showed Thursday he doesn't plan to back down.

"If legislators are willing to reform how we do business, they will find me an eager partner," Rauner wrote in a Springfield State Journal-Register op-ed. "If they are not, then they should expect a very long extra session because I will keep fighting for major reforms that will grow jobs and help properly fund services by shrinking waste inside government."

A sequence

Republicans this week helped set the stage for a partisan battle. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs Tuesday blamed Democrats for bipartisan budget talks being "over."

The next day, House Republican freshmen said gridlock justifies term limits for lawmakers.

On Thursday, Gov. Bruce Rauner wrote his op-ed.

The ideal?

State Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, said the ideal situation would be lawmakers wrapping up next week and giving Rauner a budget and the power to manage it.

"We've maybe become a little too accepting of less than ideal down here, which is probably why we're on the verge of having a little bit of a fight," Murphy said.

Will mayors get theirs?

State Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, was coy about how a budget Democrats might make would affect suburban mayors.

Rauner has proposed cutting what towns get in state income taxes in half. Kotowski suggested that was a no-go for Democrats, but didn't want to talk specifics about whether mayors might see a smaller cut.

"We're going to do our best to make sure that we ensure that local governments are able to provide the services they need in the area of public safety," Kotowski said.

New gig, same topic

Former state Rep. Darlene Senger, a Naperville Republican who ran for Congress last year, has taken a new job with the conservative Illinois Policy Institute.

Senger was in Springfield this week to talk to lawmakers about the state's pension debt, a topic she worked on extensively as a lawmaker when she helped craft the benefit-cutting law that was rejected by the Illinois Supreme Court this month.

That means, among other things, that she won't be making another bid for Congress in 2016 against Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster.

"Running for Congress was a wonderful experience, and I'm glad I did it," she said.

Senger didn't rule out a run sometime in the future, but she said the 11th Congressional District was drawn to heavily favor Democrats and that it would be even tougher for a Republican in a presidential year than it was for her in 2014.

Senger was touting a report this week that suggests moving state workers' and teachers' future retirement benefits into 401(k)-style accounts wouldn't be cost-prohibitive.

The worst way

Out of all the zingers aimed Rod Blagojevich's way, David Letterman had one of the most memorable.

Blagojevich visited the show in his post-arrest publicity tour.

"I've been wanting to be on your show in the worst way for the longest time," Blagojevich said.

"Well, you're on in the worst way, believe me," repliqqed Letterman, who retired Wednesday from the "Late Show," ending 33 years on late-night TV.

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Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, left, shares a laugh with host David Letterman on the set of "The Late Show with David Letterman" on Feb. 3, 2009. Blagojevich, now in prison, spoke to Letterman about his removal from office. Associated Press
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