Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner once again attempted to triangulate the Democratic legislative leaders he has been warring with in Springfield, announcing Thursday that he had struck a deal with Senate President John Cullerton on pension legislation while blasting House Speaker Michael Madigan as “unreasonable” and “irresponsible.”
But the claim of a deal was immediately rejected by Cullerton, who said in a statement that the pension legislation outlined by Rauner “goes beyond what we discussed and beyond what I support.”
Rauner, who is less than a week away from delivering a state of the state address while he presides over a government that has gone seven months without a budget, summoned reporters to his 16th-floor office at the Thompson Center in Chicago to announce what he billed as a “first step” “in the spirit of compromise.”
Rauner said he was dusting off and endorsing pension legislation that Cullerton had first proposed years ago. But there was a catch: Rauner said he wants the legislation altered to exempt salary increases from collective bargaining rights.
The governor said Cullerton had agreed to that change, but Cullerton disagreed.
“The governor called me this morning to say he was going to back my ideas for pension reform,” Cullerton said in a statement. “The plan he outlined at his news conference isn’t what we talked about. It’s not my plan. It goes beyond what we discussed and beyond what I support.”
Madigan also weighed in, saying in a statement that he was opposed to the proposal, and even going so far as to speak for Cullerton.
“Despite the governor’s desire to drive a wedge between Democrats in the House and Senate, neither President Cullerton nor I will agree to make changes proposed by the Governor that will hurt the middle-class families of our state,” Madigan said.