Rauner to lawmakers: 'Get the job done' in 10 days
With Illinois facing an unprecedented third straight year without a full budget, Gov. Bruce Rauner called lawmakers back to Springfield on Thursday to hammer out a deal before fiscal year 2018 begins in July.
“Today, I am calling the General Assembly back here to Springfield -- a continuous special session that will start next week and stay in effect until a balanced budget is passed,” Rauner said. “We have tough urgent choices to make, and the Legislature must be present to make them”
Illinois has a $15 billion backlog of bills, $119 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and a bond rating one level above junk.
The budget impasse has left many social services, colleges and public schools scrambling to find funding for personnel and programs. Many of them had to cut hours, staff and resources.
The General Assembly ended its spring session on May 31 without a budget. Rauner told legislators to return to the Capitol on June 21 and remain until an agreement is reached.
“Our state's long-running financial problems have turned into an unprecedented crisis that we must address," Rauner said. "For two years, the majority in the General Assembly have ignored our recommendations for a long-term balanced budget. For two weeks now, they have ignored our request to stay here in Springfield and get the job done.”
Democrats passed a collective package of bills that would impose a $5.4 billion tax hike to pay a portion of the state’s deficits, a workers’ compensation reform measure, a government consolidation bill and an education funding reform bill.
But Republicans have criticized the partisan nature of the efforts, arguing that Democrats left the negotiating table to enact their own unilateral proposals.
Rauner urged lawmakers to set aside partisanship and work together.
“We have tough, urgent choices to make, and the Legislature must be present to make them,” Rauner said. “We have little time to change the direction of our state, to come together around a budget compromise that creates a brighter future for all the families in Illinois. Everyone needs to get serious and get to work to ease the minds of parents with school-age children, to reassure people in need, to help our colleges and universities, to grow jobs and bring relief to hard-working taxpayers.”
Republican lawmakers unveiled their own set of proposals on Wednesday that they claim would bring proper reform.
Rauner said he would sign the "compromise" Republican package and urged Democrats to accept it.
“It won't be easy, though we have an opportunity to do the right thing for Illinois,” Rauner said. “We must do it because if we don't, the ramifications for our state will be devastating and long lasting. We have to stop only thinking about the next election and truly focus on our next generation. We all need to adopt a serious sense of urgency. In the days ahead, let's show the people of Illinois we have their best interest in mind, not our own. Together we will move our state forward to a better and brighter future."