Senate Dems reject Rauner secret budget-cutting plan
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.
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.
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Video: Manar still looking for budget answers from Rauner administration
Ancient voting systems to get needed reboot
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.
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.”
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