A lot of tongues have been wagging at the prospect of seeing results come out of a planned Nov. 18 meeting of Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state's legislative leaders.
The public meeting would be the first for the group in months. It was suggested by good government groups as a way to jumpstart talks toward breaking the logjam that has kept Illinois without a budget for more than 130 days.
Although the governor first embraced the idea, he is now downplaying the meeting, saying it will end up being a public spectacle of political posturing. Democrats are unsure whether the meeting will be worth their time if Rauner doesn't stand down on some of his anti-union demands.
Here's another idea designed to end the impasse: The House and Senate are in session on Nov. 10.
Rather than wait another eight days to do something that should have been completed in May, why not start meeting then? Why not surprise everyone and hold a traditional closed-door powwow in the governor's office?
Inside the meeting, they can lay their cards on the table and put an end to a stalemate that is directly affecting Illinoisans and indirectly hurting the state's reputation and long-term ability to grow and prosper.
Lawmakers agree: Why wait until Nov. 18 if everyone is going to be in town on Tuesday.
State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, said big deals in government often come together in private negotiations, not in public forums.
"I think more one-on-one interaction with one another would be helpful," Barickman said. "I don't have high expectations for the Nov. 18 meeting because it looks like it might be a public relations circus."
State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, outlined a scenario in which Nov. 10 could be an opportunity for the legislative leaders to take the temperature of the rank-and-file members on which direction they want to go with the budget and Rauner's demands.
The leaders and Rauner would then have their Nov. 18 meeting and outline some potential solutions with an eye on returning to Springfield for actual votes on the next scheduled legislative session day of Dec. 2.
However, like Rauner, Bryant said its more likely that a resolution won't get done until after Jan. 1 when the threshold for approving legislation in the House and Senate drops from a super-majority to a regular majority.
"The dynamics in January change," Bryant said.
Then again, there's no telling whether the new year will provide any relief.
"There are a lot of egos involved here," said Bryant.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who oversees the capitol complex, said workers would not be stringing Christmas lights on the statehouse this year because his office needs to save the $7,300 it costs for other items, such as postage.
No word yet on whether White will be handing out lumps of coal to Rauner and the legislative leaders.
For now, there is an attempt to raise private funds to finance the lights. Here's a link if you're interested in donating: https://www.gofundme.com/ar8hrmne
And then there were three.
Rauner's effort to makeover state government inched forward last week with the ouster of Amy Martin as director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
Martin was among the final four agency directors who have been serving under Rauner even though they were appointed during previous administrations.
Technically, Rauner didn't can Martin, who came on board during the Blagojevich era and moved into the top agency spot under Democrat Pat Quinn. The historic preservation board of directors dumped her on a vote of 4-3 with all of the "yes" votes coming from members who were appointed by Rauner.
Martin's departure leaves the directors of the Environmental Protection Agency, Human Rights and Juvenile Justice as the lone remaining agency execs to have been appointed by governors not named Rauner.
State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, reeled in some big bucks last week as he preps for a challenge from businessman Dave Severin, R-Benton, and Libertarian Party candidate Scot Schluter of Crab Orchard.
Bradley, an assistant majority leader, received a $53,900 contribution from the Laborers union as part of a nearly $100,000 haul on Nov. 3. At the end of September, Bradley had $161,985 in his campaign war chest.
Neither of his opponents have reported raising any money.