(Left) House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs). (Right) House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago).
Illinois House GOP Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) is imploring House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) to focus on a state budget, not election year "gotcha" votes.
"The Speaker does not have to go down (to Springfield) and spend a month of “gotcha” votes," Durkin said on the Chicago Tribune's "Sunday Spin" with reporter Rick Pearson. "He’s (already) got an arsenal of those."
"Gotcha" votes are those on bills proposed only to get legislators to take votes that than can be used -- or twisted -- in campaign materials this fall.
One example: last fall, State Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) proposed a bill she called a "property tax freeze." But the bill actually would have raised property taxes on a majority of Cook County homeowners and businesses.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) voted against the bill, actually a tax hike, calling it a "political pandering piece of garbage."
Her principled stand didn't stop Gov. Bruce Rauner from running tens of millions of campaign advertisements that claimed Ives was "for higher property taxes."
The ads were called "relentlessly dishonest" by Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn. But they worked. Rauner squeaked by with a victory over Ives, 51 percent to 49 percent.
Durkin told Pearson that Democrats want to pass a six-month budget, anticipating a victory in November by J.B. Pritzker after which they can craft one more favorable to their interests.
"That's a very dangerous attitude to take," Durkin said. "My communication to the Speaker two months ago was to work on a full year budget— one that’s fair, that’s balanced, that’s realistic, where our revenues match up with our expenditures, which (is) required under the (Illinois state) constitution. I’m going to reaffirm that with him very soon."
Durkin said Madigan should focus on negotiating a budget because he already has all the campaign fodder he needs.
"What the Speaker needs to realize and all of the members of his caucus need to know is that the battle lines have been drawn," he said. "We know the issues that are at stake in November. ... My request to him is, let’s spend six, seven weeks putting together a full year budget."