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The Majority Report 06/18/17 - Senate Democrats wonder where Rauner’s been


Cullerton to Rauner: Where were you the past six months?

Sen. President John J. CullertonThe Illinois Senate started working on a balanced budget in late 2016 after Gov. Bruce Rauner canceled with legislative leaders. The Senate's work ultimately produced a bipartisan plan that incorporated a mix of budget cuts and new revenue - along with numerous government and ethical reforms - to balance spending. The plan followed Gov. Rauner's spending blueprint and limited the tax increase to the rate he wanted.

Facing a May 31 deadline, Illinois Senate Democrats approved that balanced budget that they'd worked on with Republicans, who chose to not support their own plans. The Senate's balanced budget is now pending House action.

Now, weeks later and well after the May 31 deadline, Gov. Rauner is ordering lawmakers back into Special Session at a cost of tens of thousands of taxpayers' dollars and telling the Senate to do what it's already done - balance his unbalanced budget.

After all the Senate's work to produce a balanced budget, Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton had a direct response to Gov. Rauner's new interest in the budget.

"Where's he been?" Cullerton said of the governor's absence from budget talks throughout 2017.
The Senate President expressed his fears that Rauner's Special Sessions are for show and political cover - like a string of more than two dozen similar Special Sessions ordered by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Cullerton said it would have been more productive and efficient for Rauner to resume the negotiations with legislative leaders that he canceled in early December.

Watch Illinois Senate President John Cullerton discuss the budget crisis HERE >


Senate Dems unhappy with cost of governor's special session

Sen. Kwame Raoul

When the Illinois legislative session ended shortly before midnight on May 31, the Senate Democrats' balanced budget plan was sitting in the House. Two weeks later and twenty-three days after the Democrats took the tough votes to pass the budget, the governor reappeared and called for a special session to do the job Democrats already did.

Several senators pointed out that the late action by the governor comes at a cost to taxpayers.

"The governor's stalling on a budget deal isn't just frustrating - it's costly. The special session will cost taxpayers nearly $48,000 a day, totaling almost $480,000 over the 10-day session," said Senator Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat. "At a time when the state owes $15 billion in unpaid bills, this is hardly money we can afford to spend."

"All of a sudden because the governor is finally getting some heat for his two-plus years of not governing, he is going to cost the tax payers thousands of dollars to pull us back into session and try to coerce us into supporting his non-compromise budget? This is ridiculous," said Senator Linda Holmes of Aurora.



Senate Dems tell governor to commit to Paris Agreement

Paris AgreementChicago Senators Daniel Biss and Heather Steans joined House Democrats and the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter to introduce legislation to protect the environment and workers and keep Illinois on track to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement guidelines despite signals from the President and Congress to take steps backward on decades-old federal rules.

Biss' legislation would ensure that state-level regulations put in place by the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Occupational Safety and Health Act, among others, remain in place in the event if federal rollbacks.

"It's time for Illinois to set a goal of 100 percent clean energy for our state. Just because the Trump Administration has declared it will lodge its head firmly in the sand and ignore the need for realistic environmental policy doesn't mean we can't act," Biss said. "These efforts put us on track to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement here in Illinois. I hope it serves as an example to other states as Illinois begins to chart a path to a 100 percent clean energy future."

Steans announced plans to introduce legislation establishing a goal of 100 percent  clean energy for Illinois to assert state leadership on climate change.

"President Trump made an egregious error when he decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement," Steans said. "To combat this decision and ensure that Illinois continues to reduce greenhouse gases, I am working on legislation to move Illinois toward 100 percent clean energy and a bill to increase the use of electric vehicles. I will continue to push Illinois to be an environmental leader."



In case you missed it

Senator Tom Cullerton, Villa Park: Cullerton and Palmisano agree school funding changes good for DuPage schools (Chicago Tribune)

Senator Michael Hastings, Tinley Park: Sen. Michael E. Hastings works to protect Illinois election data from foreign cyber threats (Chicago Tribune)

Senator Toi Hutchinson, Olympia Fields: Local leaders express strong support for south suburban airport (eNews Park Forest)

Senator Pat McGuire, Joliet: Cost of higher education in Illinois due in part to budget impasse (WJOL)

Senator Steve Stadelman, Rockford: Lottery to drop Illinois from Mega Millions, Powerball games (My Stateline)


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