socastcmsRssStartBy Greg Bishop | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
Republicans will have to reach pretty far across the aisle in the 101st General Assembly if they want to get anything done next year.
The 101st General Assembly will be seated in January, but lawmakers in the 100th General Assembly have one more week of veto session before wrapping up later this month. State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, didn’t expect much to happen for the rest of the year. Looking to next year, he said he’s willing to give Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker and his administration a shot.
“But I have to say, I’m concerned when they start talking about increasing taxes further,” Oberweis said. “It’s caused a real exodus of people from the state of Illinois and I’d hate to see that accelerated.”
Oberweis said it’s going to be difficult for Republicans to hold the line as Democrats will have not just the governor’s mansion but supermajorities in both the House and Senate.
State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, who has been tapped to be a part of Pritzker’s transition budget committee, said Democrats will work with the GOP.
“The thing we’ve learned the last couple of years is bitter partisanship was not helpful for us, it was not helpful for the state,” Harris said.
Democrats won’t need Republican support to pass legislation. That includes any possible revenue increases and spending bills.
Oberweis said despite being in the super-minority under House Speaker Michael Madigan and Pritzker, there’s an opportunity for Republicans to play a role in the next General Assembly.
“If Mr. Pritzker has one opinion and Mr. Madigan has another, then perhaps we will have some weight to come in on one side or the other on that difference,” he said.
Oberweis said that Democrats won’t be able to avoid responsibility for any failures in light of the control they’ll have on state government.
Harris said that means it’s time to fix the problems.
“Let’s try to fix them so that a year from now we can say ‘look at the progress that we’ve made,’ ” Harris said.
Illinois has more than $200 billion in unfunded public employee retirement costs, more than $7 billion in backlogged bills, the second-highest property taxes in the country, an unemployment rate that’s higher than the national average and workers’ compensation costs above all other states in the region.