Reporters and government watchdogs are up in arms that leaders in the Illinois State Senate are holding a closed-door meeting in Springfield today with state budget experts from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). While the state constitution makes clear that "sessions of each house of the General Assembly and meetings of committees, joint committees, and legislative commissions shall be open to the public," Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) is calling the bipartisan meeting a "joint caucus" session, exempting it from normal regulations. That sets a disturbing precedent, especially when all members are present and the details of the discussion are so crucial to the governance of the state. What's more confusing is that NCSL officials are scheduled to hold a press conference at 11 a.m., immediately following the session. Why not just let reporters in from the beginning?
(UPDATE at 10:33 AM: Here is Cullerton's explanation. Apparently, he's worried that the participants won't "freely" ask questions about the budget for fear of embarassment if reporters are in the room.)