Rauner, leaders should keep budget talk private, business leaders say

  • Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, center, reaches to shake the hand of House Speaker Michael Madigan as Senate President John Cullerton looks on. Details of a meeting between Rauner and top lawmakers haven't been set, and some business groups want to keep it private.

    Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, center, reaches to shake the hand of House Speaker Michael Madigan as Senate President John Cullerton looks on. Details of a meeting between Rauner and top lawmakers haven't been set, and some business groups want to keep it private. Associated Press File Photo

 
 
Updated 11/12/2015 5:39 PM

The state's top business leaders are encouraging Gov. Bruce Rauner and top lawmakers to keep their highly anticipated budget meeting next week private, saying public spectacle surrounding talks would be "counterproductive."

A meeting between Rauner and the four legislative leaders was pitched by a group of good-government groups, and it has been billed as a public meeting even though few details about the Nov. 18 summit have been set.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In a letter to the leaders Thursday, the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, Illinois Chamber of Commerce and others urged a private meeting.

"While the spectacle of a publicly broadcast meeting may be appealing to some, we believe that such an event could become pure political theater," the letter reads.

The groups pointed to a recent private negotiation over unemployment insurance that ended in a deal. State budget talks in Springfield have long been held behind closed doors before legislation emerges for a public vote.

Top Democrats and Rauner have been deadlocked over state spending all year, and Illinois has operated without a budget since July 1, leaving organizations and towns that depend on state money unpaid.

Thursday's letter follows one from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and other groups asking about even basic details of the meeting, such as what city the gathering will be in and what kind of public access will be available.

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The group's board chairwoman, Susan Garrett of Lake Forest, said she'd prefer the meeting be public.

"But if the leaders and the governor decide otherwise, that's their prerogative," she said.

A Rauner spokesman declined to comment.

Republican leaders this week said compromises made by Rauner showed a reason for optimism going into next week's meeting, and House Speaker Michael Madigan said he is "anxious" for the event.

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