Some grand bargain bills pass

Update: 4:00 pm, 5/19/17, Friday 

ILLINOIS -- Lawmakers are heading home to their districts after another week of failed attempts to reach a budget. When they return, they'll have ten days to reach a deal before the deadline.

The Senate held session Friday for a few hours and finished up taking votes on some non-budget bills. As for budget meetings, none were held, so it looks like lawmakers will pack their bags and head back to town Monday.

However, many Senators say, even though they're not in the Capitol, it doesn't mean they're not working. Some will make phone calls and exchange ideas via email to return Monday, ready to work.

The House also held a brief session as well and advanced some bills.

One amendment the Senate did advance is term limits on all legislative leaders; House and Senate. If it passes the House, voters will be asked on the 2018 ballot if legislative leaders should only be in office for ten years.

With the term limits bill, it would start in January 2019, meaning House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton would be able to serve another ten years. 

Original: 4:30 pm, 5/18/17, Thursday

ILLINOIS --  It took nearly two years but Thursday night, the Senate passed big chunks of the grand bargain. Democrats broke the deal apart into pieces and gave Republicans an ultimatum take it or leave it. 

It was attempt number three in the Senate as Democrats tried again to pass several measures included in the grand bargain, hoping this time around would be different.

"So we sacrifice negotiations and budgets and they sacrifice and then we vote for the bill and they don't," said Senate President John Cullerton. Cullerton called nine bills in the package; seven passed. 

One was a revenue bill which approves more than $36 billion, but failed to pass a portion which would implement cuts, called the Bimp Bill. One does not work without the other. 

"We don't think they've ever provided us with a balanced budget since 2002 and that's clear, but the fact that they failed to pass the Bimp Bill and frankly, it wasn't agreed to, and for Senator Cullerton to say these were agreed, he was simply misinformed,"said Sen. Bill Brady (R).

The state's backlog of bills is surpassing $14 billion and time is running out. The Senate failed to get enough votes to pass a two-year property tax freeze which required a super-majority to pass. 

"We have consistently said we need property tax parities if we're going to have an income tax. If it lasts four years, we need a property tax freeze for four years," said Sen. Brady

"We got a true measure of where the Republicans were on things that they were proposing that they couldn't even vote for," said Sen. Andy Manar (D).

The Senate did pass items like a new school funding formula, gambling expansion and pension reform. They also approved to borrow $7 billion to pay down the state backlog of bills. However, all these passed with little Republican support. 

"It's not time yet. We just need a little bit more time so, at some point, you just have to recognize maybe the person on the other side of the table isn't serious about getting a deal done," said Sen. Scott Bennett (D). 

"We're probably likely to be less than a handful meetings away from getting that result because both sides are motivated," said Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R).

A worker's comp bill is likely to be called Thursday. Both sides say they've reached an agreement. Cullerton says Democrats are also willing to freeze property taxes for two years, but not any longer. 

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