Re-election bids could start before budget impasse ends

The ongoing state budget impasse could take an awkward turn in the next few weeks if Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats don't sort things out.

Starting Sept. 1, Illinois candidates of all stripes can start collecting the petition signatures they need to get on the ballot in 2016.

That means Illinois House members, who were seated in January, could be knocking on our doors to ask for re-election before they've finished approving a single budget during their two-year terms.

State Rep. Mike Tryon, a Crystal Lake Republican, has an interesting perspective on this, because he's not running for a seventh term.

He said voters approached for a petition signature might not know every detail of the long, complicated, sometimes-vicious budget impasse in Springfield between Republican Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature. But they know there's a problem, he said.

"And they're going to want to talk to you about it," he said. "Ten signatures an hour might turn into five."

Blame game

Candidates don't need to turn in the petition signatures until later this year, so they could wait until the outrage blows over. But collecting signatures isn't an easy task, and procrastinators could get caught.

Tryon pointed out that social service agencies taking care of the disabled, domestic abuse victims and others will really start to feel the pain of the 6-week-old budget impasse if checks don't start going out by fall - the height of petition-passing time.

"People will want to blame someone," Tryon said. "And it may be that they blame everyone."


If you're just tuning in, Democrats sent Rauner a budget that was more than $3 billion out of balance. Rauner vetoed it, saying he wants business-friendly laws approved before he'll talk about raising taxes to fill that spending gap.

Democrats said Rauner could have rewritten the budget and avoided a partial government shutdown that began July 1. Republicans said Democrats are playing political games and need to compromise.

Is there an end in sight? No, there is not.

No picking sides yet

House Speaker Michael Madigan, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, was asked this week if he's backing a candidate for U.S. Senate in the March 15 primary.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates and Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp have been the two most prominent Democratic candidates so far.

Madigan said he hasn't made a call but suggested he might soon.

"Not today, and that's something for me to decide," Madigan said.

Be careful

The Illinois State Fair is underway, and the state sent out a safety warning this week possibly inspired by the Wood Dale tent collapse that killed a man during a storm earlier this month.

So if you're heading south for the state's annual agriculture expo and celebration of gluttonous fried goodies, here's a reminder from Illinois to stay safe in bad weather.

"Unfortunately, in this business, Mother Nature is one thing that we cannot control," State Fair Manager Patrick Buchen said. "Throughout the fair, our staff will coordinate with the National Weather Service and the Illinois State Police to deliver weather updates throughout the fairgrounds."

If there's severe weather, announcements will direct people to the nearest permanent buildings. "It is important to note that a tent is not considered a permanent structure, as it is not designed to withstand high winds," the notice says.

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