BLOOMINGTON — State Sen. Bill Brady thinks he can be a facilitator to bring a state budget to the finish line, he said Friday after being named Senate Republican leader.
Brady, of Bloomington, was selected by a unanimous vote of the Republican caucus, replacing Sen. Christine Radogno, who announced Thursday that she would step down as Senate GOP leader.
An official vote by the full Senate will take place as soon as possible, according to the caucus.
Brady, who has represented Bloomington in the Senate since 2002, told The Pantagraph he has a good working relationship with Gov. Bruce Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton, but as of noon Friday, “I have not talked to the speaker.”
That would be powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, who is the key to working out a “grand compromise” on the budget stalemate, said Brady.
“We still hope that we can tie up the knots and have a package we could agree on in a bipartisan way and get the governor's approval on it,” Brady said.
He wasn't sure if that could be done before the new fiscal year begins Saturday, but hopes it will be soon.
“By and large, the Democrats are there,” Brady said. “We're right at the goal line.”
Radogno was unable to bring all the pieces together, but Brady said, “I think Christine Radogno is part of the solution, not the problem,” adding, "I will leverage the skills of my caucus” to help bring about an agreement.
“I'm a pretty good facilitator … to carry something to the finish line,” he said.
Brady said he has been told that one advantage of him becoming Senate minority leader is having a downstate lawmaker in leadership meetings.
In a statement congratulating Brady, Gov. Bruce Rauner described Brady as “a champion for Illinois families — understanding the changes our state needs to create jobs, lower property taxes, strengthen schools and reform our political system.”
Brady has been assistant Republican leader. He lost the 2014 Republican gubernatorial primary to Rauner and narrowly lost the governor's race to Pat Quinn in 2010.
State Sen. Jason Barickman, R- Bloomington, assistant Republican Senate leader, congratulated Brady in a statement, adding that he is looking forward “to my role as part of his leadership team in the Senate.”
Brady was nominated by Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, and Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles. McConnaughay had been mentioned in media reports as a possible successor to Radogno.
Brady was first elected to the General Assembly in 1990, serving as a state representative from 1990 to 2001.
Radogno, 64, a Republican from Lemont, has been minority leader since 2009 and has served in the Senate since 1996.
“Though I leave political office with a sense of sadness and some disappointment, I leave with no regrets,” said Radogno. “I did my best — that's all I could do.”
Illinois is in the midst of a political impasse that has left the state without a full-year budget since fiscal year 2015 and there is nothing in place for the fiscal year that begins on Saturday.