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Just how bad are things in Springfield?

Democrats’ dysfunction hobbles Illinois

by Daniel C. Vock, Staff Writer


U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., the second-ranking senator on Capitol Hill and a veteran of many partisan battles, said on at least three separate occasions he’d rather negotiate a truce in Iraq than mediate the conflict in the Statehouse. He told The Associated Press, “I’d rather deal with the Sunnis and Shias than an open civil war. It’s easier to figure out who your enemy is.”

Democrats could hardly ask for more power in the Illinois Capitol. Their party chairman heads the House, they hold all statewide elected posts including governor and, just for good measure, they have a veto-proof majority in the Senate.

But instead of routing Republicans, the Democrats are fighting among themselves in a very nasty and public way.

Their bickering means many of the most pressing issues to come before the General Assembly are still up in the air.

The bulk of the annual budget is done, but new funding for schools is on hold, the state is in jeopardy of losing federal transportation money and cash-starved public transit agencies in the Chicago area are threatening to hike bus and rail fares and to cut routes.

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