SPRINGFIELD — Democratic state representatives and senators from around the state are reacting to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s entreaties for cooperation made during Wednesday’s State of the State Address.
Here is a sampling:
State Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton:
“Gov. Rauner claims that as a businessman he knows how to run the state,” Beiser said. “However, since he took office the state’s deficit has skyrocketed and he has failed to introduce a balanced budget. This isn’t working. We need to reform working groups, which allowed legislators to create a stop-gap budget last spring, and to put in place a full and balanced budget for the rest of this year and next fiscal year.”
Beiser is focused “on supporting economic reforms that will help grow our local economy.” He supports a proposal to cut the corporate income tax on businesses by 50 percent and force big companies in Illinois to pay their fair share to help reduce the burden on small and medium-sized businesses. Additionally, Beiser wants companies that receive tax breaks, but ship jobs overseas, to return that money. Beiser also backs increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit, which would help working families keep more of their paycheck.
“Our economy grows when small businesses create jobs and more people move into the middle class,” Beiser said. “We need policies to protect American jobs and families in the state of Illinois. That means putting a budget in place to protect our most vulnerable citizens and to help grow the middle class. Legislators have succeeded in doing this when we all work together, and we need to do it again.”
Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill:
“Gov. Rauner used a lot of words today to explain the state of the state – more than 3,900 of them, as a matter of fact. But the reality is that actions speak louder than words. For two years the governor has been all talk and little action as the state declined without a budget under his watch.
“I am pleased that Gov. Rauner acknowledged the work of the education funding reform commission in his speech today, but for the sake of Illinois public schools he must turn his words into action and urge the commission to present legislation outlining a new funding formula. The state of Illinois already has piles of dusty research reports that show how rotten our school funding formula is. If Gov. Rauner’s commission produces yet another report and no actual legislation to advance in the Legislature, we will have failed our young people and our schools yet again.”
State Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Crest Hill:
“Halfway through his term, the governor is only half-right when it comes to education and jobs. Illinois does need more good, middle-class jobs. But when it comes to post-secondary education, all the governor talked about were research universities and ‘wealth creation.’
“The community college student studying nursing who needs financial aid to finish? Silence. The small-college student hoping to earn a teaching degree without crushing student loan debt? Crickets. The public university student majoring in criminal justice who hopes her school will stay open? Not a word.”
State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago:
“While I appreciate the governor calling attention to some serious issues within our criminal justice system, we need to recognize that real change will only come about if we invest in our neighborhoods. I recently passed legislation in the Senate that offers comprehensive trauma recovery services in communities with high levels of violent crime. If Governor Rauner is serious about ending the cycle of violence, I hope he will approve this measure.
“Additionally, the governor has let another year go by without a plan to provide state services to people with disabilities, mental health issues or addiction. Every day without a budget is a day that some of our most vulnerable citizens lack access to the help they need.
“As we reflect on the state of our state, we must recognize how much worse our financial situation has become under Governor Rauner’s leadership. Before the governor took office, we had paid down our backlog to a 30-day cycle. We now have an unprecedented $11 billion in unpaid bills. It is not hard to see that the difference between then and now is who is sitting in the governor’s office.
“We must make it a priority in the coming days and weeks to end this stalemate. I am ready to work with anyone who comes to the table with real solutions and a willingness to compromise.”