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The Majority Report 03/19/17 - Rauner struggles with budget basics


Senate Dems reject Rauner secret budget-cutting plan

Senator Don HarmonMembers of a key Senate committee voted down Gov. Bruce Rauner's bid to make unlimited, unilateral cuts to state spending last week.

After hours of testimony from agency directors who were unable to identify even $1 to cut from their budgets, Rauner budget chief Scott Harry told lawmakers a list of cuts "does not exist."

"You can't tell us what those cuts would be. You tell us you will have to develop them after we give you the power (to cut)," said Senator Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat.

"It's a little like handing a razor blade to a toddler right now."

After the vote, Rauner's office accused Democrats of not working with him to balance the budget.

"If this is working with us on the budget, let me know when he starts working against us," said Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills).

In February Rauner presented a budget with a nearly $5 billion deficit, counting on the Senate’s grand bargain to balance it and praising senators for their work on a deal. Not two weeks later, his office worked behind the scenes to derail the compromise.

"The governor had the chance to balance the budget on his own. We even set aside a day for him to unveil it to the public. He had that chance last month, last year and the year before that. He’s failed at every chance," said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

"So I’m not sure who he’s talking to anymore when he demands that someone needs to balance his budget."

In the weeks following the governor’s interference in Senate budget negotiations, more than a dozen state agency directors testified in Senate committees about where they could chip away at the governor’s $5 billion budget hole.

So far, they’ve identified $0.

In the news: Rauner wants power to chop state budget, but won’t say what he’d cut
In the news: Democratic senators reject Rauner’s push for expanded budgetary powers
What's the price of the backlog? Manar, Mendoza partner to find out
Video: Manar still looking for budget answers from Rauner administration


Ancient voting systems to get needed reboot

Ancient voting systems to get needed rebootSenator Andy Manar continues his push to bring automatic voter registration to Illinois.

Gov. Rauner vetoed Manar's effort last year despite bipartisan support in the House and Senate.

“If we’re looking for ways to transform and modernize state government, voter registration is an excellent place to begin,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “We have addressed the concerns the governor outlined in his veto message from last year, and there is absolutely no reason why this measure shouldn’t sail through the Legislature, to the governor’s desk and become state law.”

Under the latest proposal, beginning July 1, 2018, qualified voters would be automatically registered to vote when they visit driver services facilities or other state agencies for services. Voters could opt out of the system, and a series of checks would ensure no one is registered to vote that should not be.

Video: Manar explains importance of automatically registering voters
In the news: Lawmakers revive automatic voter registration push
In the news: Automatic voter registration back at Statehouse


Tax disclosure plan for presidential candidates advances

Tax disclosure plan for presidential candidates advances

Senators Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) are working to hold presidential and vice presidential candidates accountable if they want to be on the ballot in Illinois.

Senate Bill 982 would require candidates to release five years’ worth of income tax returns. Biss and Aquino introduced identical legislation in the Senate earlier this year. Biss' SB982 advanced out of committee Wednesday, and Aquino has taken over as the main sponsor of the measure, with Biss remaining a co-sponsor.

“Unfortunately, right now as a nation we are learning what happens when we elect a president without demanding to know more about his or her business entanglements,” Biss said. “This legislation would enable Illinois voters to have better information about the financial interests of presidential and vice presidential candidates so they may make the best possible decisions at the polls.”



In case you missed it

Hutchinson seeks stories from those impacted by Illinois’ budget crisisMEMBERS IN THE NEWS

Senator Scott Bennett, Champaign: Students at Plainfield school learn about government from state senator (WCIA-TV, Champaign)

Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Shorewood: Students at Plainfield school learn about government from state senator (Herald-News, Joliet)

Senator Cristina Castro, Elgin: Durbin address immigration issues with officials, ECC students (Elgin Courier-News)

Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, Chicago: Mitchell: Bill aims to address mental health crises and guns (Chicago Sun-Times)

Senator Don Harmon, Oak Park: Editorial: How to close dark money loophole in Illinois political campaigns (Chicago Sun-Times)

Senator Michael Hastings, Tinley Park: Hastings streamlines veterans’ certification process (Daily Southtown)

Senator Linda Holmes, Aurora: New wallet card designed to help those with disabilities (Aurora Beacon-News)

Senator Toi Hutchinson, Chicago Heights: Hutchinson seeks stories from those impacted by Illinois’ budget crisis (Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle)

Senator Kimberly A. Lightford, Maywood: La Grange Park's Memorial Park breaks ground on long-awaited renovations (Suburban Life, La Grange Park)

Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: New nurses could come from community colleges (WCIA-TV, Champaign)

Senator Iris Y. Martinez, Chicago: New proposal could make it easier to become a U of I student trustee (WAND-TV, Decatur)

Senator Julie Morrison, Deerfield: Senate panel OKs bill to reform Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission (The State Journal-Register, Springfield)

Senator Kwame Raoul, Chicago: Gun felon crackdown could save millions of dollars, prison agency says (Chicago Tribune)

Senator Martin Sandoval, Chicago: Sandoval works to strengthen public safety (Lawndale News, Chicago)

Senator Steve Stadelman, Rockford: Local transportation company faces major cuts in services due to state budget impasse (WREX-TV, Rockford)

Senator Heather Steans, Chicago: Rauner wants power to chop state budget but won’t say what he’d cut (WTTW-TV, Chicago)


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