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Fowler: budget negotiations optimistic but frustrating

updated: 5/19/2017 8:23 AM

SPRINGFIELD -- State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, said continuing budget negotiations in Springfield have kept him optimistic but frustrated as lawmakers work to hammer out a state budget before the end of May.

If a budget is not passed during General Session, a legislative supermajority -- or 60 percent from both the house and Senate -- will be required to pass any spending legislation in a special session.

"I don't think it's changed much," Fowler said Thursday afternoon in between committee meetings. "I'm still optimistic but the frustration level is still equal. By keeping us there Friday, maybe something will be back on the table."

Fowler said some positive legislation did come out of Springfield, including Senate passage of a gaming expansion bill.

"I am excited about the gaming expansion at Walker's Bluff. Now it's going to the House, so we'll see how that goes. I'm all about creating economic opportunity. We need to grow our economy, and we're going to do that by creating more jobs."

Fowler said his work on improving worker's compensation rates in Illinois also may see a vote today. Work comp rates need to be lower to help attract more businesses to Illinois, Fowler said.

"We're not going to grow our way out of this if we don't become more business-competitive," he said.

Fowler said he is prepared to knuckle down to pass a budget before the end of May.

"We've got now a little under two weeks to go, and I'll be home for about a day this weekend. Then, I will not go back unless a day gets called off. I'm scheduled through Memorial Day, and I'm more than willing to do that. That means 9 to 10 days without coming back home potentially, and I'm good with that."