Bending to Madigan will further break the state, Rauner contends
Gov. Bruce Rauner fired back at Senate President John Cullerton and his recent column in State Journal-Register, urging him to take aim at Illinois' true nemesis.
“Two years into our state budget impasse, it’s encouraging that some Democrats are finally willing to engage in serious negotiations to resolve our differences,” Rauner posted on his website. “But as we approach the end of the legislative session, many of them are buckling under enormous pressure from Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, powerful lobbyists and special interests who want to maintain the status quo.”
As the end of the legislative session looms with no budget agreement in place, Rauner called for continued efforts at negotiation but cautioned Cullerton and other General Assembly Democrats that he will not support a budget that perpetuates the state’s financial problems.
Rauner pointed to Democratic leadership that for the past three decades has presided over a ballooning debt that has grown to $180 billion. He criticized Madigan and Chicago politicians for looking to address the state’s budget shortfalls by raising taxes without looking at real reforms.
“For weeks now, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have been negotiating every day, but critical differences still remain,” Rauner wrote. “Hundreds of millions of dollars are still needed to truly balance the budget. We want to reduce government spending to close the gap. Democrats want to raise taxes on groceries and prescription drugs instead. We’ve told them over and over, we absolutely won’t do that.”
The tentative Illinois budget faces a deficit of $5 billion or more, by various estimates. The crux of the General Assembly’s impasse over an agreement is how to close that gap, with Democrats pushing for increased taxes and Republican wanting spending cuts and reforms they believe will help eliminate similar deficits going forward.
Rauner has been pushing spending caps as well as a property tax freeze. He has advocated measures that would make it easier to consolidate local units of government, arguing that Illinois has the greatest number of them in the country, which leads to a higher tax burden for residents. Rauner has also called for term limits on state and local politicians and reforms to the state’s workers’ compensation system to reduce its costs and make it easier for businesses to operate.
“Our administration genuinely wants to reach a budget deal,” Rauner wrote. “We’ve been trying to negotiate a good deal for taxpayers for more than two years. But we won’t be pressured by special interests, insiders and career politicians to take a bad deal for taxpayers. A bad deal for taxpayers is worse than no deal at all, because it preserves the broken system and continues our state’s slow and painful decline. A good deal for taxpayers would turn our state around, not just for one or two years but for decades to come.”
Rauner accused Democrats of being swayed by special interests and lobbyists and urged Senate Democrats in particular to resist the influence of Madigan and other Chicago politicians. He framed himself as a representative of the taxpayers and promised to fight on their behalf.
“We understand the enormous pressure Speaker Madigan and special interests are bringing to bear on Senate Democrats,” Rauner wrote. “But now is not the time to buckle. Now is the time to seal a good deal for taxpayers and put Illinois back on track. Let’s reduce the cost of government and grow the economy to keep our budgets balanced for the long term.”
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