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Here’s what everyone heard: Reax good, bad pours in following speech

Illinois Business Journal staff report

Here are selected responses to today’s budget speech from Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner:

Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon:

“It reminds me of about four years ago when Senate Republicans offered the Reality Check budget alternative to the out-of-control spending of the Democrats whose policies have brought us to this current fiscal crisis. Reality Check outlined spending into the future and recommended budgets for 2015 and 2016 that are about the same $31.5 billion level the Governor proposed in the Budget Address. His plan is pragmatic and the truth is his proposal is what it takes to live within our means.

“It doesn’t matter what you want to do. The reality is this is what the taxpayers have given you and this is what you (the government) are expected to accept. Do I agree with every little part of this budget? Well, perhaps I don’t, but the Governor addressed the main components to get us to a spending level the taxpayers can afford. He courageously dealt with public pensions by ensuring people keep the benefits they’ve been promised and then moving forward, adjustments to what is affordable. He also put an emphasis on Corrections, which in my district is huge. He wants to increase the number of Corrections Officers and at the same time increase programs to help inmates be successful in life and not come back. His budget also includes funding for the most vulnerable.

“His approach to the budget is not only to make Illinois more competitive as a state but compassionate too. Is it going to be difficult? Obviously. I’ve said when you come home to your family and you tell them we have to limit our spending — and no one likes telling their children they have to do without – you do it because there is a future for your family and you are obligated and have a fiduciary duty to take care of them. It’s the same way for legislators. We have a fiduciary duty to look out for the people in this state and to live within our means and I think this budget does exactly that.”

State Sen. William Haine, D-Alton:

“This proposal is troubling. It would leave the state and the 56th district with big issues to face. Cutting Local Government Distributive Funds will create higher property taxes and a loss of services in local communities. His cuts in social services will leave needy families without access to resources they need. His cuts to higher education are going to skyrocket tuition prices. This is not a viable solution. Now is the time to draft legislation so we can start a dialogue with our citizens on the role of government in such things as healthcare, education and developmental disabilities. “

State Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon

“Today, the governor laid out a plan that offers a realistic look at where the state is right now and the challenges we face going forward. The budget proposal will serve as a blueprint so we may begin working on the budget with both sides of the aisle over the next several months.

“Furthermore, it is refreshing to see Governor Rauner deliver the Budget Address on schedule for the first time in years, by doing so, he is giving us time to review the budget so we can go back to our districts and talk to our constituents about how this budget would affect them.”

State Sen. Emil Jones, D-Chicago:

“His plan balances the budget on the backs of the poor, elderly, mentally ill and working families. This is the not the compassionate Illinois that he spoke of over the course of the last two years.

“His plan has cut after cut to safety net programs but no mention of closing corporate loopholes for his millionaire buddies.

“This budget cuts services for children with mental illness, homeless youth services and programs to help children with developmental disabilities. These cuts are simply unconscionable and don’t make Illinois better.””I will fight for the people in my district because their voices clearly weren’t taken into account when this mess of a budget was drafted.”
The governor’s budget plan proposes draconian cuts to programs that people in my community desperately need.”

Maryjane A. Wurth, president & CEO, Illinois Hospital Association

“Illinois’ Medicaid program is in the midst of great transformation, with new ways to deliver care, improve outcomes and achieve savings, as a result of major reforms enacted in recent years. More than 115 hospitals across the state are part of innovative systems, such as Accountable Care Entities and Care Coordination Entities, that coordinate care for Medicaid enrollees to ensure the best outcomes and control costs. These reforms have reduced Illinois’ spending on Medicaid by more than $1 billion since 2012.

“However, the Governor’s Medicaid proposal – a drastic $1.5 billion spending cut (roughly 10 percent) as well as harmful policy changes – would take the state in the wrong direction and undo the substantial, groundbreaking progress being made to transform the Medicaid program and the state’s health care delivery system. It will also hurt the economy. For example, a 10 spending cut to hospitals alone would mean the loss of more than 8,200 jobs and $1.1 billion in economic activity.

“Many of our families, friends and neighbors rely on Medicaid for their health and well-being. It is the health insurance program for one out of every two children in Illinois, and for one in four Illinoisans – kids, adults, seniors and individuals with disabilities or mental illnesses. The program is cost effective and provides taxpayers with a significant return on investment:

“Illinois ranks 49th in the nation in Medicaid spending per enrollee – substantially lower than all other Midwestern states and large states (e.g., Minnesota is 9th; Ohio 17th; New York 2nd; Pennsylvania 7th);

“State taxpayer costs per Medicaid beneficiary have dropped an average of 1.2% per year over the past decade;

“To the extent that the state does not adequately fund Medicaid, these unfunded costs are shifted to middle class families through higher insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

“To have a healthy, productive workforce in a competitive economy, Illinois needs to responsibly fund its Medicaid program. We urge the Governor and General Assembly to invest in health and not leave our most vulnerable residents behind.”

Illinois Policy Institute CEO John Tillman

“In November, Gov. Bruce Rauner was elected on a mandate of change. The budget address he issued today is encouraging, and signals he is willing to heed that call and make tough decisions for the state. For the first time in many years, this budget places the interests of family budgets on an equal footing with those who directly benefit from state spending.

“There is no shortage of politicians in Springfield who think the solution to Illinois’ perpetual budget crises is to continue raising taxes. The best evidence for why higher taxes won’t solve Illinois’ problems are the past four years: When Democrats raised the state income tax in 2011, they said the additional tax money would ‘pay down Illinois’ backlog of bills, stabilize the state’s pension crisis and strengthen its economy.’ Back in 2011, the state’s backlog of bills was $8.5 billion. But after collecting more than $31 billion in higher taxes, Illinois still has approximately $5 billion in unpaid bills, more than $111 billion in pension debt and the weakest economy in the nation. The evidence is clear: More taxes are not the solution to Illinois’ financial problems.

“Critics will cite the spending cuts, but this budget focuses spending on the most essential services the state should provide and thus protects massive cuts to taxpayer budgets at home due to higher taxes.”



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