State House and Senate agree on electric high rate problem
As state lawmakers near a deal, Senate President Emil Jones credits himself for ensuring customers will see discounts on their soaring electric rates.
Jones said Wednesday at the Capitol that consumers wouldn't see the benefits of a $1 billion rate relief package _ the details of which are being finalized _ if he hadn't stopped the rate freeze that House Speaker Michael Madigan and others pushed to provide consumers relief.
Jones called a rate freeze bad public policy that would be locked up in court, and said Madigan and others have finally agreed.
"So I'm glad I held my ground," Jones said. "As a matter of fact, all those who were advocating, the public officials, now recognize that it was the wrong direction to go. But it would be nice if they said so publicly."
Legislators continued working Wednesday to finalize the deal, which would provide about $1 billion in rebates and discounts to consumers over four years on rates that soared when a 10-year rate freeze ended in January.
Jones, Madigan and Blagojevich continue to struggle on a state spending plan for the budget year that began July 1. The three met with Republican leaders for nearly two hours Wednesday.
Madigan, whose Democratic-controlled House approved a budget plan in May, said the leaders were working on a new proposal that "would work very nicely with available resources" and not include a tax increase or an expansion in state-sanctioned gambling.
But Jones, who supports expanded gambling, said Madigan should then find some other source of new dollars to pay for necessary hikes in public school funding.
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