Journalist in Residence
Neither Illinois Senate President John Cullerton nor House Speaker Mike Madigan will have a Republican boogeyman to point to when they speak to interest groups or members of their own caucuses.
Blaming anything on a lack of Republican bipartisanship will be nearly impossible.
But here is the flipside to that: Republicans need no longer worry now about whether they will be invited to the table by the majority.
For the next two years at least, they will be sitting alone at the legislative equivalent of a battered card table in the basement.
They can either sit at that table and sulk or use their time in the legislative wilderness to develop alternatives.
“We need to come with our proposals and plans,” said state Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon. “The Democrats are in the majority and don’t have to accept them. In fact, they can just ignore them. But we need to show our plans are different than theirs.”
Some of the hot-button issues likely to come up in the next two years are:
- Raising the minimum wage
- Extending the income tax increase
- Addressing the state’s staggering pension debt
- Borrowing to pay the $9 billion in unpaid bills the state has piled up
- Expanding the sales tax
- Most of the fighting will happen within the Democratic caucuses.
Geography, rather than party affiliation, will mark the coming divide within the General Assembly.
Urban Democrats will continue to push a hard-left agenda pitting them against suburban and downstate interests within their own party.
“The ball is really in the Democrats’ court now,” McCarter said. “They control everything.”
image credit: Abel Uribe/Tribune photo