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Legislators split over Rauner’s stark budget message


From Illinois Business Journal news services

Reactions fell largely along party lines Wednesday as legislators took in the ominous budget message offered by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“Either you give the executive branch the authority to cut spending to live within our revenues. Or, we agree – together – on economic and governmental reforms, to accompany a negotiated balance of spending reductions and revenue, that ensures that Illinois can be both compassionate and competitive. You choose. But please, choose now,” the Republican governor said.

“Twelve months ago, I proposed a budget with $6 billion in cuts, and it was quickly rejected by the legislature. I offered to work together to find a compromise, but our reform proposals were ignored. Instead, Democratic legislators passed a spending plan that was more than $4 billion out-of-balance, and I had to veto it.

“Democrats won’t support enough spending cuts to live within our current revenues, and you won’t vote to raise taxes to cover your deficit spending unless Republicans agree to support your tax hike.

“I won’t support new revenue unless we have major structural reforms to grow more jobs and get more value for taxpayers. I’m insisting that we attack the root causes of our dismal economic performance.”

Reactions spilled forth throughout the day:

 State Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton: “There are so many issues in which we can agree upon. It is time to sit down and find common ground for funding for our students, our universities, Alzheimer’s patients and those who are feeling the real impact of this budget impasse. It is time we work together to solve this budgetary crisis and work toward a caring and compassionate state.”

State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea: “Everyone agrees with the governor when he says that we need to improve the business climate in Illinois. However, the agenda he is pushing is bad for working families and his unwillingness to compromise is damaging our business climate more every day. For the sake of our economy we need to make the state’s finances a priority and pass a responsible state budget.”

Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon: “Gov. Rauner laid out a clear path to pull this state out of the ditch. Today he revealed two budget proposals that will lead to a balanced budget and we all know Illinois desperately needs a budget that is balanced. The Governor indicated he is ready to work across party lines and I hope the Democrats are willing to join him. I agree that we need a budget which includes structural reforms to help grow Illinois’ economy which will ultimately benefit taxpayers. Furthermore, the Governor’s plan to fully fund education is a plan I look forward to supporting as our school districts have been shortchanged far too long. It’s about time downstate schools get their fair share of school funding while balancing the state budget at the same time.”

State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon: “Once again the Governor talked about the need for structural reforms to government and serious fiscal discipline to turn around Illinois. We need to grow our economy. That means more taxpayers and more job creators who see that we are creating a stable political and economic environment where they feel they can invest their money and put our families back to work.

“The Governor outline a budget plan that laid out two paths before lawmakers: Make the needed reforms to improve the state’s business climate or give him the authority to make the necessary cuts to balance the budget.

“Under the Governor’s plan, Education is the priority. He wants record state support for elementary and secondary education, including $4.8 billion for General State Aid, which fully funds GSA for the first time in seven years. The plan also includes record state support for Early Childhood Education of $393 million.

“While education was clearly the centerpiece of the Governor’s address, he said it was essential that the Legislature work with him to achieve a comprehensive solution to the state’s financial problems. The other pathway he mentioned – giving him broader power to manage the budget – includes many difficult choices, including deep cuts.

“The mismanagement of the past by Democrat politicians created the situation we find ourselves in today.”

Staste Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton: “Throughout my time in office, I have called for a responsible budget that protects working families, but over the past year, we have seen multiple attempts to hurt the middle-class and cushion the pockets of multi-million dollar corporations. Today, the governor continued his push for policies that would hurt the middle-class constituents I represent, and I am disappointed that he did not use his time in front of the entire General Assembly to start compromising.

“Since July, many working families have been going without the essential services that they rely upon because the governor has been pushing for an agenda that is designed to drive down wages. Not only is his agenda bad for Illinois, but people across the state are against it. We need to be protecting programs that people depend upon every day just to get by.

“I stand ready to compromise on a responsible budget that reduces government waste while also supporting our working and middle class families, but we can’t begin to start talking about next year’s budget when these services are still going unfunded. I call on the governor to put his non-budgetary items aside and start compromising.”


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