Rauner, Dems hope for best with budget summit

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Democratic leaders of the Illinois General Assembly are trying to appear optimistic about Tuesday afternoon’s rare budget summit with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Rauner and the four legislative leaders — including Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton — haven’t been in the same room together since May. Tuesday marks the start of the sixth month of the fiscal year with no budget.

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says the meeting is “another step” in trying to reach an agreement. Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon says Cullerton hopes there will be “productive negotiations.”

But Madigan and Cullerton have objected to Rauner’s insistence on making changes to the business and political climates before talking spending. And Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly says the governor still plans to discuss his proposals for “structural reforms.”