SPRINGFIELD -- Another day of posturing and finger-pointing at the Capitol came and went Tuesday with no visible progress toward ending a stalemate that has left Illinois government without a budget.
In the statehouse Tuesday, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner kept up his assault on House Speaker Michael Madigan, accusing the Chicago Democrat of causing the budget impasse to build pressure for a tax increase.
Democrats in the House returned the volley, holding a series of hearings designed to show the perils of adopting Rauner's pro-business agenda, which they say will hurt the poor and middle class.
The latest round of sparring marked the third week of political brinksmanship. The House is meeting on a weekly basis. The Illinois Senate has no plans to return to the Capitol until early August, suggesting the gridlock isn't going away soon.
"I feel likes it's Groundhog Day times three," said state Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove.
The standoff has triggered questions over how long state government can operate without a budget in place. Already, social service agencies have been laying off workers because payments for programs serving the elderly, mentally ill and disabled have stopped.
By month's end, half of the community action agencies that help low-income families with issues such as utility assistance are expected to close, affecting 1,000 workers and 60,000 aid recipients.
"We are hopeful the budget issues will be resolved before it is too late," said Dalitso Sulamoyo, executive director of the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies.
Rauner launched the first verbal missile of the day, blasting lawmakers for allowing their paychecks to increase at a time when the state is in a financial mess. According to the administration, the Legislature failed to vote down automatic pay hikes this spring, triggering automatic cost-of-living increases that will boost base salaries by about $1,300 annually.
"This is what has to change in state government," Rauner said.
The governor, who is the first Republican chief executive in 12 years, offered up his theory on why there is little progress toward a resolution.
“I think the speaker wants pressure. They want people hit by (the) lack of a budget before they’ll take action. It’s wrong, I don’t agree with it, but it’s his style and we’ll just have to deal with it the best we can," Rauner said.
But Rauner, too, has said a government shutdown may give him the leverage to enact the kinds of changes he says will boost Illinois' economy, including an overhaul of worker compensation laws, the reduction of certain collective bargaining rights for unions and limits on lawsuit awards.
Madigan has repeatedly said Rauner's demands are "extreme" and should not be tied to the passage of a budget.
He said he believes the impasse has given Illinoisans a chance to more fully understand the implications of what Rauner wants to do.
"We all know that the public in general is becoming very much aware of the governor's advocacy of these nonbudget issues that go against the core beliefs of both Democrats and Republicans because they reduce wages and the standard of living and they force injured workers on to welfare and to the emergency room," Madigan said.
Despite the harsh words, the governor said the fight is not personal.
"I don't feel that way at all," Rauner said. "I don't feel any personal animosity to him at all."
Madigan said he wouldn't engage in name-calling.
"I'm not going to go there," Madigan said. "When I speak about the governor, I'm basing those comments on facts."