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Few specifics, missed opportunities in governor's budget speech (VIDEO)

budget ftr 021517

The Illinois State Senate joined the House of Representatives today to hear Gov. Bruce Rauner's third budget address. The governor repeated his support for the Senate's "grand bargain" budget package still under negotiation, yet offered few specific dollar amounts in his proposals.

Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton offered the following statement after the speech:

“Right now the Senate is working on this year’s budget because there isn’t one. We need to restore stability and sanity to Illinois’ finances. That begins with a budget for the here and now. That’s what the Senate is trying to do.”

Other Senate Democrats' reactions reflected frustration with a lack of specifics, solutions and leadership.

Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago: "It is the governor’s constitutional obligation to present the General Assembly with a balanced budget. If he is not willing to do so, then the Senate will forge ahead with our bipartisan budget negotiations."

Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park: “I am alarmed that Gov. Rauner was no more prepared today to propose a balanced budget to the General Assembly than he was on this day in 2016 or in 2015. For nearly 200 years Illinois governors considered it a duty to set the spending priorities for the state and did their best to work with the legislature to be responsible to taxpayers – especially when times were tough. Not this governor. He considers it a political liability. Illinois is facing tough times now, and they’re getting tougher by the day because Gov. Rauner lacks the courage to do the job that 41 governors before him managed to do. The governor can continue to sit on the sidelines while my colleagues and I in the Senate do his job for him. We’ll craft a budget for the people of Illinois and save the state from financial ruin. All he has to do is stay out of our way, let us do his job and not make it more difficult for us.”

Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park: “We are now on our third budget proposal with no real numbers, no concrete plans and without a true cost-analysis. We need real solutions, not political buzz words.”

Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston: “Gov. Rauner’s top priority has been to protect billionaires like himself who refuse to pay their fair share. This leaves him with only unpalatable options like harmful cuts to key programs and tax increases on the middle class. Faced with this choice, Gov. Rauner has decided to duck responsibility and deflect blame.”

Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, spoke of Mutual Ground, a shelter for victims of domestic violence that has yet to be paid this year for their contraced services: "In his public remarks, the governor has continually tried to minimize the negative effects of going without a budget, but my constituents are struggling.”

Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez, D-Chicago: "Since the governor doesn’t want to do his job and get serious about getting Illinois out of the budget impasse he created, I’ll continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to do his job for him. The people of Illinois deserve a balanced budget that funds higher education, human services and other core services.”

Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins, D-Chicago: "Term limits and workers' compensation have nothing to do with proposing and presenting a budget. Governor Rauner’s proposal does nothing to address the violence within Chicago, but simply seeks to wall it off from the outside. It’s a tone-deaf move that further distracts from the fact that the Senate continues to do his job for him. It is his duty under the Illinois Constitution to present a budget, not the Senate’s.”

Sen. Terry Link,  D-Vernon Hills: “We saw today that we have a governor who continues to hold social service providers and higher education hostage for his political gain. The Senate has been working in a bipartisan fashion to provide the governor with an opportunity to put Illinois back on a path towards a balanced budget. But instead of joining us in that fight, he shied away from the opportunity to lead.”

Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago 13: "Governor Rauner said he proposed a budget, but I looked all around the Capitol, and I couldn’t find it. He suggested that he knows what job creators want. I can tell you that what they want most is the stability that comes from paying our bills on time. Before Governor Rauner took office, we had made great progress towards paying down our backlog. Now, we have accrued more than $11 billion in unpaid bills. The only difference between then and now is who is in the governor’s mansion."

Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford: “I appreciate that Governor Rauner acknowledged the bipartisan effort of my colleagues in the Senate and our work on a budget deal. I am, however, disappointed that the he did not fulfill his constitutional duty to propose a balanced budget. Illinois has been greatly hurt by the unprecedented budget impasse. With funding now stopped for services for our most vulnerable citizens, it is more urgent than ever that we end this stalemate."

Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago Heights: “$11 million a day is the cost of doing nothing. We need a budget now.”

Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria: "What I heard today was bits and pieces of a budget. I am interested in seeing the whole thing. What is clear is we need a budget now. This isn't about special interests anymore; this is about the state of Illinois."

 Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin: “We have heard this budget address before. For the third year now, the governor has failed to present a balanced budget and as a result, social services and higher education continue to suffer. Gov. Rauner presented some great talking points, but that’s all they are: talk, nothing solid. The Senate, in a bipartisan fashion, has worked to put forth action. Words are meaningless without action. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the legislature to negotiate a grand bargain and am hopeful that the governor will support it when it comes to his desk.”

Sen. James F. Clayborne,  D-Belleville: "Under Article VIII Section 2 of the Illinois Constitution the governor is required to present the General Assembly with a balanced budget. He has failed in this duty. He says he is for education, but he has vetoed MAP grants and he has stood in the way of education budgets. Illinois is in trouble because of the failed leadership of this governor. He needs to do his job and present us with a budget.”

Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago: "He’s not willing to make fixing Illinois’ budget crisis his problem. As a result, human service programs that provide opportunities and assistance to those in need will continue to be underfunded. While I appreciate his calls to fund public safety and criminal justice reform efforts, he has spent the last two years talking, not doing."

Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake: "While I thought the governor presented a nice vision for Illinois, he failed to provide any actual solutions for how to achieve his goals. If there was one takeaway from the address, it’s that Governor Rauner will not be taking the lead to end the budget impasse. It’s up to the Senate to fix the state’s budget mess.”

Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago: “Within the Governor of Illinois’ office, there is an entire staff for the purpose of analyzing and creating a state budget that costs the taxpayers $1.5 million per year to keep in operation. In today’s budget address, we heard more of the usual talking points from Governor Rauner and next to nothing in the way of new ideas. Governor Rauner must step outside of his alternative fact based universe and into the real world, where his budget hostage-taking has real and devastating consequences.”

Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago: "Today, the governor spoke of the heroin and opioid crisis plaguing our state. However, for two years, he’s failed to provide adequate funding for treatment centers and providers.  What will it take for the governor to prioritize the budget crisis? The governor has promised to make Illinois compassionate and competitive but we’re still waiting for his actions to match his rhetoric."

Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood: “The governor said it himself – the last budget he proposed was two years ago. However, he continues to place blame on legislators. He called off working groups, he stopped leadership meetings and he halted the work being done in the Senate. His speech today was not a budget address. It was a lecture without any substance.”

Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet: “The governor’s attitude toward the Senate bipartisan compromise is perplexing and frightening. In his budget address today, the governor called for procurement reform to ‘save us hundreds of millions next year alone.’ In fact, a reform bill which would do just that and which is part of the Senate’s grand bargain was passed by the Senate on Feb. 8, but with only Democratic votes. Is the governor mouthing support for this bipartisan breakthrough, while in truth putting the brakes on it? Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno realize the urgent need for Illinois to have a budget. The governor should give their efforts an unambiguous boost.”

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill: “There are real-life consequences every day that goes by that the governor refuses to propose and embrace a balanced budget. Small businesses close. People can’t pay their bills or schedule doctor appointments. Auto dealerships don’t sell cars, and real estate agents don’t sell homes. People stop going out to dinner and to movies. They burn through their savings. Gov. Rauner has put the squeeze on central Illinois families and businesses in a way no one has ever seen."