Gov. Rauner to deliver budget address Wednesday

Gov. Rauner to deliver budget address Wednesday

Despite technical difficulties that cut off his prompter, Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his annual budget address Wednesday.

The governor delivered his speech almost two years into Illinois' operating without an official state budget.

Illinois' unpaid bills have almost doubled from the $6 billion Rauner inherited when he took office in January 2015, according to a Jan. 25 statement from Comptroller Susana Mendoza in response to the governor's State of the State Address.

The legislative package would also authorize spending through fiscal 2017, expand gambling, authorize $7 billion of borrowing to pay down the bill backlog, provide teachers' pension payment help for Chicago Public Schools, pave the way for local government consolidation, and establish a new local government revenue bond program.

But the Senate plan addresses workers' compensation and other Rauner priorities such as a property tax freeze.

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Reforms can end the state's $1.4 billion pension subsidy to school districts and universities - subsidies that let those institutions dole out higher pay, end-of-career salary hikes and pensionable perks that dramatically drive up the cost of pensions. He said by doing that and putting more money into grants for eligible students, IL universities will "deliver great results for taxpayers".

Rauner says in today's budget address, he'll finally weigh in on some of the elements in the so-called grand bargain.

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Chicago, said it's good to know where Rauner stands.

Democrats have been saying Rauner has never proposed a balanced budget - shirking his constitutional and statutory duty. "They're getting beat up by the unions".

The current package in the Senate also imposes just a two-year property tax freeze. State Senator Paul Schimpf of Waterloo says Rauner recognizes how important higher education is to the state.

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Senate Republican Minority Leader Christine Radogno said she was heartened by the speech and guidance provided.

The bill is now in the state Senate. He's proposing a 10% increase to MAP grant funding. "We've got more work to do on workers' comp, spending levels, the education funding formula, etc".

Davidsmeyer says to fix the budget crisis, IL needs to stop spending beyond it's means. He opposes extending a sales tax on food and medicine.

"Enough is enough. Every day we go without a balanced budget only makes things worse for taxpayers, our schools, and social service providers and kicks our problems down the road even further".

But while the governor spoke against relying exclusively on tax hikes to balance the budget, demanded a permanent property tax freeze, and supported a strict spending cap, his proposal still falls short of providing the spending reforms necessary to avoid a tax hike altogether.

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