Wednesday, January 25, 2017 03:51 PM
- Van Pelt
The Illinois Senate joined colleagues in the House for Gov. Bruce Rauner's State of the State Address today. He covered a range of topics including education, the economy and criminal justice reform and highlighted what he sees as accomplishments during his two years in office. The governor took a moment to recognize and thank Senate members and leaders for their efforts to pass a budget package to move the state forward after a two-year impasse.
Senate Democrats reacted to the address shortly after they left the House. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton released the following statement:
“The Senate is well aware of the state of our state. That’s why we are working together to put an end to the budget impasse and restore economic stability to Illinois. Our state is filled with wonderful people and places. It is state government that has failed and fallen behind. Our efforts continue in the Senate to turn this around and I remain optimistic that we are near an agreement.”
Other senators reacted to what the governor said, as well as what he didn't say.
Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston): “On the governor’s watch, Illinois has undergone a crisis unmatched in our nation’s history. Years without a real budget have taken a terrible toll on our state. Without a real budget our economy has weakened, and our citizens have less opportunity. In fact, the only thing that has increased is the number of people leaving Illinois. Bruce Rauner campaigned on the promise to fix Illinois, but he's done the exact opposite. Instead, by refusing to back down from his polarizing political agenda, Gov. Rauner has harmed the very people he was sent to represent. I invite the governor to put aside the rhetoric and join me in discussing the issues that will make a difference for all Illinoisans. We must begin by balancing our budget with a fair tax system that gives a break to the middle class while asking billionaires to pay their fair share."
Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign): “The people of Illinois have made it clear that they want the budget stalemate to end. I am hopeful that the general assembly can send the governor a comprehensive package that will break the prolonged political paralysis and help move Illinois forward.”
Sen.Pat McGuire (D-Joliet): “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.”
Senator 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.”
Sen. Mike Hastings (D-Tinley Park): “Governor Rauner’s speech is full of empty promises. He continues to strip away the dignity of our most vulnerable populations – the disabled, elderly and those suffering from mental illnesses. Citizens across Illinois have lost hope due to his inaction. While serving our great nation overseas, I learned what it means to stand for something and now is the time, governor, for you to define your moral character and stand up for working class families. Your failure to lead will cause our state to fail. ”
Sen. Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines): “It’s discouraging that once again, the governor failed to lay out a specific plan to solve our budget crisis weeks after state funding ended for higher education and services for our most vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, those with mental illnesses and disabilities. In the Senate, I look forward to continuing to lead the way toward a bipartisan budget compromise that closes corporate tax loopholes and freezes property taxes, while producing a bipartisan budget deal for the first time in over two years.”
Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford): “I appreciate the governor’s acknowledgement that the Senate has taken the lead in working toward a bipartisan budget compromise, which also contains many of the reforms he has called for in the past. However, weeks after state funding ended for higher education and services for our most vulnerable citizens, the governor once again failed to lay out his own plan to address the two-year budget impasse. I look forward to continuing to work toward a negotiated, bipartisan budget for the first time in over two years."
State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake): “It’s time for Governor Rauner to be held accountable for the fact that his refusal to compromise on the budget has taken Illinois backwards these past two years. Every day that the impasse continues, the backlog of bills grows and becomes even more of a burden to our citizens. The people of Illinois are tired of partisan bickering. The Senate is working hard on a bipartisan budget and reform package. It’s time for the governor to put politics aside and actually start trying to move Illinois forward. Governor Rauner needs to stop campaigning and start governing.”
State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago): “Governor Rauner may have touted his work on criminal justice reform, but his recent comments calling Chicago the murder capital and his refusal to stand up to President Trump, rather than actually investing in programs that would help reduce crime in Chicago speaks volumes. The governor’s refusal to compromise on a budget directly impacts our criminal justice system and makes it harder for criminal justice reform attempts to succeed. The lack of budget has caused underfunding for important human service programs that help reduce recidivism, treat addiction and help prisoners re-enter the workforce, all of which are critical parts of criminal justice reform. In order to make significant progress toward reforming the criminal justice system, the governor needs to make funding human service programs and investing in our neighborhoods a real priority.”
Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park): “Despite all of Illinois’ natural assets and competitive advantages, Gov. Rauner has willfully put the state of our state in jeopardy by refusing to propose and negotiate a balanced budget. We’ll never be able to unleash our full competitive potential if we can’t pass a budget and establish stability. While I appreciate the optimism he expressed today about the Senate’s hard work leading the way toward a budget compromise, I have yet to hear him accept responsibility for his role in the stalemate and the fiscal problems that have worsened dramatically under his administration. So while the governor pats himself on the back for making it through a second year in Springfield, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate will be doing the heavy lifting that Gov. Rauner refused to do the past two years. And rather than meddling from afar in an attempt to derail real compromise and progress in the Legislature, perhaps he will choose to join us at the table in a spirit of cooperation so that together we can accomplish something meaningful in his third year in office.”
Sen. Cristina Castro (D-Elgin): “Today in Springfield the governor presented his vision for a more prosperous and safe Illinois. While I disagree with some of his ideas on how to achieve this, I look forward, as a new member of the General Assembly, to working in a bipartisan fashion to move past this stalemate for the sake of the people of Illinois.”