House mov­ing into ‘a new chap­ter’

Madi­gan vil­i­fies Rauner; Dems boost num­bers

Daily Southtown - - NEWS - By Mike Riopell and Juan Perez Jr. Mike Riopell re­ported from Spring­field and Juan Perez Jr. re­ported from Chicago.

SPRING­FIELD – As Democrats bol­stered their num­bers in Spring­field on Wednes­day ahead of Gov.elect J.B. Pritzker’s in­au­gu­ra­tion next week, Demo­cratic House Speaker Michael Madi­gan tried to urge co­op­er­a­tion while vil­i­fy­ing Repub­li­can Gov. Bruce Rauner on his way out the door.

Madi­gan, the long­est serv­ing House speaker in Amer­i­can his­tory, won the gavel again Wednes­day as a new class of law­mak­ers was sworn into of­fice. Se­nate Pres­i­dent John Culler­ton was eas­ily elected, too, cap­ping a blue wave in Novem­ber that helped give the Demo­cratic Party near to­tal con­trol of state gov­ern­ment once Pritzker is sworn in Mon­day.

Rauner and Madi­gan sparred for much of the last four years, as the gover­nor sought sup­port for his probusi­ness agenda and the clash led to a his­toric twoyear bud­get stale­mate. On the cam­paign trail, Rauner spent years and mil­lions of dol­lars work­ing to blame Madi­gan for most of the state’s ills.

“Four long years of char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion. Four long years of per­sonal vil­i­fi­ca­tion. Four long years of stri­dent ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tions, also known as ‘my way or the high­way,’ ” Madi­gan said.

“Some might say, as we put an end to these last four years, ‘Let’s just close the book,’ ” the speaker said. “As we do move be­yond these last four years, let’s not just talk in terms of clos­ing the book. Rather, let’s think in terms of clos­ing one chap­ter of the book, (and) take les­sons from that chap­ter so we can move to a new chap­ter where peo­ple work with peo­ple.”

Just one Demo­crat, new state Rep. Anne Stava-Mur­ray of Naperville, didn’t vote for Madi­gan for speaker. Swear­ing him in was out­go­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral Lisa Madi­gan, the speaker’s daugh­ter.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions,” she said. “You’re the speaker again.”

House Repub­li­can leader Jim Durkin of West­ern Springs also won re-elec­tion, and he re­flected on Madi­gan’s new term with a quote from base­ball leg­end Yogi Berra.

“It’s deja vu, all over again,” Durkin quipped. But he pledged the GOP would act in “good will and good faith” with Democrats, and asked the same from the speaker’s cau­cus.

“All of our con­stituents through­out the state de­serve bet­ter than we have given them in re­cent mem­ory,” Durkin said. “They are los­ing faith in Illi­nois, our gov­ern­ment and our fu­ture here. We must — as a Gen­eral Assem­bly, as a state — stop look­ing only to­ward the next elec­tion.”

Eyes will turn now to Pritzker, who at­tended the House cer­e­mony. He takes over state gov­ern­ment from Rauner on Mon­day fac­ing big chal­lenges. Illi­nois has a $7.4 bil­lion pile of un­paid bills. Re­build­ing roads and bridges will cost money. Pay­ments for state worker and teacher re­tire­ments keeps go­ing up. And that’s not to men­tion un­ex­pected chal­lenges any gover­nor faces, such as nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and chang­ing po­lit­i­cal winds.

Rauner, mean­while, presided over the Se­nate’s in­au­gu­ral cer­e­mony as out­go­ing Mayor Rahm Emanuel sat in the front row. The gover­nor was ap­plauded as he left the cham­ber after­ward, per­haps for the last time.

“We may have had our dif­fer­ences, from time to time, but you took on a chal­lenge when oth­ers merely com­plain from the side­lines,” Culler­ton said to Rauner. “Thank you, and I wish you and your fam­ily the best.”

Se­nate Democrats have a 40-19 ma­jor­ity, such a big mar­gin that some of them have to sit on the Repub­li­can side of the aisle be­cause there aren’t enough desks on their side.

Culler­ton and re-elected Se­nate Repub­li­can leader Bill Brady of Bloomington also spoke of co­op­er­a­tion. But the Demo­cratic leader’s speech also touched on some points where the two par­ties al­most cer­tainly will clash in the com­ing months and years, de­spite all of Wednes­day’s talk of to­geth­er­ness.

“It’s about do­ing things like pro­vid­ing a liv­ing wage for hon­est work, be­cause I think the em­ploy­ers of this state value their work­ers just as much as work­ers value their jobs,” Culler­ton said. “And we want both to suc­ceed. Rais­ing the min­i­mum wage is the right thing to do. And if you got all the way to the Illi­nois Se­nate and can’t do what’s right, what was the point, right?”

Brady, a former can­di­date for gover­nor, also talked of try­ing to work with Culler­ton and noted as many speak­ers did the 2017 changes to the state’s school fund­ing for­mula.

“In­au­gu­ra­tions are an im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity to turn the page to a fresh start and to find com­mon ground on the im­por­tant is­sues fac­ing Illi­nois,” Brady said.

The new 101st Illi­nois Gen­eral Assem­bly comes with sig­nif­i­cant turnover. The last two years of par­ti­san fights, bud­get wars and tough elec­tions mean about 30 per­cent of the law­mak­ers who took the oath on Wednes­day were dif­fer­ent from the per­son who sat in the same seat two years ago.

Sev­eral Repub­li­cans who voted to raise in­come taxes in 2017 didn’t run for re­elec­tion again, and some big names left for other rea­sons — with sev­eral de­par­tures rob­bing the Gen­eral Assem­bly of some of its most in­flu­en­tial women.

Former Se­nate Repub­li­can leader Chris­tine Radogno stepped aside just be­fore the bud­get stale­mate was resolved. Madi­gan’s top deputy, Barbara Flynn Currie, didn’t run for re-elec­tion. Ju­liana Stratton will be sworn in as lieu­tenant gover­nor in less than a week. And state Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton won’t re­turn af­ter her nar­row loss in the Repub­li­can gu­ber­na­to­rial pri­mary to Rauner.

Madi­gan on Wednes­day opened his re­marks by ask­ing for pray­ers for Currie, who he said checked into a hos­pi­tal af­ter feel­ing ill while trav­el­ing to Chicago.

The mood for the in­au­gu­ra­tion, though, was gen­er­ally fes­tive. The or­nate Se­nate cham­ber was packed with law­mak­ers’ fam­i­lies ap­plaud­ing each other. Vases of col­or­ful flow­ers sat on desks, and bunting hung from the gallery where spec­ta­tors watch the pro­ceed­ings. A mari­achi band waited in a hall­way be­hind the Se­nate cham­ber af­ter the cer­e­mony.

And though both par­ties at times talked of to­geth­er­ness, the next two years Democrats will have the votes and a gover­nor to do what they want with­out Repub­li­can in­put if they stick to­gether. In his speech, Culler­ton ref­er­enced Democrats’ 40 sen­a­tors to Repub­li­cans’ 19, a mar­gin so big it’s known as a su­per­ma­jor­ity.

“To leader Brady, con­grat­u­la­tions. The Repub­li­can cau­cus chose wisely in turn­ing to you for lead­er­ship,” Culler­ton said. “You’re go­ing to be, and I re­ally mean this, a su­per mi­nor­ity leader these next two years.”


Gov. Bruce Rauner greets the es­cort com­mit­tee at the Se­nate swear­ing in of the 101st Gen­eral Assem­bly on Wednes­day at the Capi­tol in Spring­field.

State Sen. John Culler­ton, D-Chicago, cen­ter, is elected to an­other term as pres­i­dent af­ter the swear­ing in of the 101st Gen­eral Assem­bly.

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