Much attention is being focused on a Dec. 1 sit-down between Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders as Illinois approaches the five-month mark without a state budget.
But there are other dates approaching that may be far more important to hopes for a deal on a spending plan, since getting there has as much to do with political timing as getting everyone in the same room or agreeing on what and how much to fund.
For politicians, the calendar often dictates motivations. And considerations such as the primary election in March and whether they will face opposition could be as big a factor as anything in getting a deal before spring.
Among the tough votes lawmakers may have to cast are for a likely tax increase to help a close a revenue gap or for pieces of a pro-business agenda the Republican governor is pushing to weaken labor unions’ bargaining power. Democrats say his proposals would hurt working families and shouldn’t factor into talks over how to close a multibillion-dollar budget hole; Rauner says they’re necessary to improve Illinois’ economy.