Don't expect big things from special sessions in Springfield

Adriana Colindres

Peoria-area lawmakers aren’t holding their breath for anything big to happen when the General Assembly returns to the State Capitol Wednesday for two scheduled days of a special session that Gov. Rod Blagojevich convened.

"I don’t expect anything of importance to come from this, but who knows?" Rep. David Leitch, R-Peoria, said Tuesday. "It’s very unpredictable these days."

The special session is a continuation of the long-brewing standoff between Blagojevich and House Speaker Michael Madigan, both Chicago Democrats, Leitch said.

Blagojevich, who says the new state budget that lawmakers sent him is $2 billion out of balance, wants the House to pass revenue-generating measures already approved by the Senate. Without that money, the governor could wind up making severe cuts to the budget.

Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, said the Democratic-controlled legislature could have passed a balanced budget anytime before the scheduled end-of-May adjournment date for the spring session. But that didn’t happen.

"If they didn’t do it over the six-month period, why would they do it in the next two days?" Schock asked. "This is really about political cover for the governor to do the job that the Democrat majority in the legislature refused to do, which is to have a balanced budget."

Rep. Donald Moffitt, R-Gilson, noted that passing budget-related measures at this point in the year would require a three-fifths vote in the House — and that means getting some Republicans on board.

Neither Moffitt nor any of the other area lawmakers contacted this week thinks the General Assembly will stick around Springfield for a series of special sessions, as was the case through much of 2007.

"At this point I’d be surprised if we’re there all summer," Moffitt said. He thinks Wednesday’s and Thursday’s session days represent "one last opportunity for the governor to advance his ideas."

Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, said he expects "more of the same" during the next couple of days.

Madigan and Blagojevich likely will throw verbal jabs at one another, but nothing will be accomplished, Mitchell said.

"I think the public is absolutely sick of it," he said.

Activity in the Illinois Senate, meanwhile, is likely to be minimal during the special session days this week.

"You want to know the truth, I don’t think anything’s going to happen," said Sen. Dale Risinger, R-Peoria. "Is that a waste of taxpayers’ money? I think it probably is."

"My expectations are very low at this point," said Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria. "The Senate, for one, will have nothing to do. All the drama will be in the House."

Adriana Colindres can be reached at (217) 782-6292 or