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Illinois Democrats, Republicans not budging in budget battle

CHICAGO, June 9 (Reuters) - A budget deal for Illinois remained elusive on Tuesday as a freeze on local property taxes, a top must-have for the Republican governor, fizzled in the Democrat-controlled House.

Governor Bruce Rauner and House Republicans accused Democrats of floating measures that had no chance of passing.

"There is not a real sincere focus on getting control of local property taxes," Rauner told reporters in the state capital of Springfield. "It's our biggest tax problem."

Powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, countered at his own press conference that the House was being responsive to the governor's request to take up issues on his so-called turnaround agenda. But he made it clear that moderate changes had a better chance of advancing than "extreme" measures advocated by the governor.

Rauner has tied the tax freeze, as well as legislative term limits and reforms to the legislative district mapping process, workers' compensation and liability lawsuits to any tax increases needed to balance the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Illinois' shaky finances, including a $105 billion unfunded pension liability, have left it with the lowest credit ratings among the 50 states.

The House last week approved changes to workers' compensation, although Republicans said that legislation did not go far enough.

Both Madigan and Rauner pledged to work together as the budget deadline looms. Democrats passed a $36.3 billion general funds budget that relies on cuts and at least $3 billion in yet-to-be identified revenue. Rauner has announced initial steps to cut spending and prepare for the possibility Illinois will not have a budget on July 1.

On Wednesday, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger will address the financial ramifications of a budget impasse.

The governor on Friday said he extended the contract of Illinois' Chief Financial Officer Donna Arduin until a budget is enacted or on Aug. 28, whichever comes first. Rauner also said Arduin's $30,000 a month salary will be cut in half. The state awarded Arduin, who has dealt with tough budgets in several states including California and Florida, a four-month contract in February.

(Reporting By Karen Pierog; Editing by Bernard Orr)