Events this week in state politics inspired us to begin promotion of two Twitter hashtags: #doyourjob and #ilbudgetnow. We hope you'll join us in using these tags to send a message to Springfield.
A week that had started out with at least a glint of hope for progress on a state budget -- working groups of lawmakers said they were making progress behind the scenes -- rapidly devolved into sniping over blame for the budget crisis, a serious reprimand from two credit agencies and more sniping over who's to blame for the state's deteriorating credit rating.
This started Tuesday, when House Speaker Michael Madigan canceled the House's scheduled session on Wednesday because, he said, working groups of rank-and-file lawmakers were making progress on a temporary budget.
On Wednesday, as those groups were working in the Capitol, Gov. Bruce Rauner held a press conference in his office in which he accused Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton of trying to sandbag work on a budget to create a crisis. Rauner said the two top Democrats wanted a crisis in state government -- especially one that would arrive if there's no K-12 school budget within a month and schools can't open in the fall -- so they could use it as leverage to pass a tax increase without implementing any of Rauner's business or government reforms.
A few hours after Rauner met with reporters in Springfield, Cullerton did the same at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. He said he heard from Senate Democrats in the working group meetings that as they were trying to craft a stopgap budget based on the governor's own plan, they started seeing tweets on their phones from the governor's press conference.
Cullerton said Rauner's campaign-style rhetoric is not helping the budget cause and urged Rauner to "take a break" and let the working groups work out a compromise.
As if to remind Illinois taxpayers that their leaders' squabbling had real, adverse effects, Moody's Investors Service on Wednesday night downgraded the state's credit rating to two steps above junk status. On Thursday, S&P Global Ratings did the same.
Both ratings agencies said Illinois' leaders had all the tools to repair the state's broken finances but political gridlock was preventing them from getting to work.
It sounds so simple, right?
That's what we're talking about after a challenging week in state politics on this week's "Only in Illinois."
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