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Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007 09:00 pm

Rank and foul

Lawmakers can’t do anything but be mad

Untitled Document Be bored, be frustrated, and be angry — that’s about the only thing that rank-and-file lawmakers can do while Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the four legislative leaders work to nail down a budget agreement. “Basically, we’re done,” says Rep. Rich Brauer, R-Petersburg. “[Blagojevich] keeps calling us in, but there’s nothing to do.”
Brauer estimates that 10 bills that he’s sponsored have passed both houses of the General Assembly and are awaiting the governor’s signature, and, with the deadline to file new bills already passed, there’s little left to do after session ends each day, he says. Powerless to do much to affect the impasse, both lawmakers and state employees carried on as usual this week as a one-month budget expired at midnight on Aug. 1. Blagojevich implored state workers to report to work Wednesday in a July 31 letter, but the request seemed unusual to some people. “We assumed everybody would show up and keep working. Why the governor would send out a letter, I don’t know,” says Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan.
But individuals employed by the Legislature answer to caucus leaders of their respective chambers, not Blagojevich. Cindy Davidsmeyer, spokeswoman for Senate President Emil Jones says that although Jones has the power to override the governor and furlough the people who work for him, that won’t happen.
Instead, Jones, Madigan, and Rep. Tom Cross and Sen. Frank Watson — leaders of the Republican minority in the House and Senate, respectively — hope to work out a budget soon, Davidsmeyer says. In the meantime, Brauer says, he’ll continue making the 21-mile trip back to his home every day after the session ends. “There’s always stuff to do around the house and phone calls to make,” Brauer says. “I can do a lot of my work from my office here at home.”

Contact R.L. Nave at rnave@illinoistimes.com.
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