Chicago (AP) — The latest Illinois budget discussions between Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders touched on the state’s pension crisis and school funding reform but was missing one key player: House Speaker Michael Madigan. Madigan didn’t attend the latest meeting Thursday aimed at ending a budget stalemate now in its sixth month because he had a scheduling conflict, according to his spokesman, Steve Brown. He declined to elaborate, but insisted that Madigan was committed to finding a solution to the budget gridlock. “He makes every effort to attend these meetings,” Brown said. It was the third budget meeting in as many weeks as lawmakers and the Republican governor try to find agreement on a spending plan. The state has been operating without one since July 1 and both parties remain deadlocked on how to proceed. Democrats who control the Legislature want a tax increase combined with spending cuts to plug a multibillion budget shortfall. Rauner wants changes in laws to make business operations cheaper and to curb union power. He also wants term limits and changes to how legislative districts are drawn every decade.