SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Senate is scheduled to hold a hearing on college affordability Tuesday as part of their summer overtime session.

With two weeks to go before the state enters a new fiscal year without a budget in place, the Senate hearing is expected to mirror one held last week on property taxes, in which witnesses testified before the entire Senate on the positive and negative effects of freezing property taxes.

The hearing is designed to highlight another difference between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control both chambers of the General Assembly.

"It's an opportunity for us to talk about ways to turn things around for the middle class," said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago

Democrat legislators are battling Rauner over his push to enact business-friendly reforms in exchange for a tax increase that would help close a $3 billion budget gap.

After failing to come to any agreement during meetings June 9, Rauner hit the road last week, traveling to Democratic legislative districts in an attempt to pressure rank-and-file members into supporting his agenda.

While the Senate discusses the skyrocketing cost of college, members of the House are expected to again take up "substantive legislation" when they gavel in Tuesday.

Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, wouldn't say what issues are expected to be on the table for the House on Tuesday.

"We don't like to negotiate in the media," Brown said.

But, he added that any legislation is likely to be similar to what the House has done in its past two sessions since the regularly scheduled spring session ended in disarray on May 31.

Along with approving a worker compensation proposal that Rauner said didn't go far enough, the House shot down Rauner's property tax freeze concept.

"I think we demonstrated pretty clearly that the governor has failed to persuade many people in Illinois that this is something that is truly needed and truly worth shutting down the government over," Brown said.

kurt.erickson@lee.net|(217) 782-4043


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