Senate lawmakers are meeting privately Monday afternoon to weigh a sweeping group of proposals designed to jump start stalled budget negotiations, including measures that would raise income taxes, expand gambling, hike the minimum wage and borrow billions of dollars to pay down government debt.
The effort comes at the start of a two-day lame duck session before a new legislature is sworn in Wednesday, meaning even if the proposals are approved by the Senate, the House wouldn’t have time to take action. But the approach is designed to get people talking after negotiations between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan broke down in December, just before a stopgap budget that funneled money to universities and social service providers expired with the new year.
Other proposals include an overhaul the state’s public employee pension system, consolidation of local units of government and a change in rules for how schools do contracts with outside vendors. The package would also include funding for universities and social service providers, which dried up Jan. 1. Efforts to overhaul the workers compensation system and freeze property taxes still had not been written into a bill as of early Monday afternoon, but those are key issues Rauner and Republicans have pushed for.