Crunch time on real solutions
The all-or-nothing compromise, negotiated over the past several weeks by Cullerton and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, includes government reforms, cuts and revenue, with an eye on ending the historic budget stalemate that has gripped Illinois state government.
While the comprehensive proposal would help to bring stability to state operations and enable Illinois to pay down its $11 billion backlog of bills, it also includes measures that special-interest groups oppose. During a series of Senate hearings last week, more than 1,000 individuals and groups indicated they object to all or parts of the package.
Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said there is urgency to pass the compromise because the budget stalemate is hurting people who don’t have a voice at the Capitol.
“I think we have successfully allied every special interest group in the state of Illinois against this package, and to me that says we must doing something right,” he told Chicago Public Radio.
Cullerton said he is encouraged by the progress that has been made on the bipartisan Senate deal.
“It’s really progress that might have seemed impossible just a few weeks ago. So if we need more time to pull us together, I’m going to consider that encouraging,” he said. “We have a bunch of questions that have been posed by our members in the caucus. We’re going to get those answered.”
Lead-protection measure goes to governor
“While I appreciate the governor calling attention to some serious issues within our criminal justice system, we need to recognize that real change will only come about if we invest in our neighborhoods,” Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) said.
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) said the governor avoided talking about real problems in his speech.
“I don’t know that Gov. Rauner really created the real picture of the state of the state,” she said. “There are a lot of dire needs and a number of areas, and they’re not just in the city of Chicago. They’re in North Chicago. They’re in Waukegan. They’re in East St. Louis. There are dire needs all over this state.”
At a news conference in the Capitol rotunda immediately following the governor's speech, members of the Senate Black Caucus reaffirmed their intention to work toward a budget compromise and to fund the higher education, senior services and nonprofit organizations that support mental health issues and people with disabilities – issues they said were largely absent from the governor’s address.
Video: Senator Kimberly A. Lightford: ‘We need our governor to lead our state’
Video: Senator Toi Hutchinson: ‘We have to do better’
Video: Senator Patricia Van Pelt disappointed gov did not offer gun violence solutions
More state of the state reaction
Video: Senator Andy Manar: Governor needs to back his rhetoric with action
Video: Senator Omar Aquino: Governor painted inaccurately rosy picture
Video: Senator Don Harmon: Governor putting Illinois in dire jeopardy
Video: Senator Michael Hastings: 'What I heard was a lot of empty promises'
Senate Democrats react to Trump’s first week
Senate Democrats reacted to some of President Donald Trump’s more controversial acts during his first week in the White House, including a vow to “send in the Feds” to deal with the Chicago gun violence and an executive order targeting sanctuary cities.
Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Martinez of Chicago expressed disappointment Gov. Bruce Rauner for failing to acknowledge the president’s anti-immigration plans in Wednesday’s state of the state address.
“If the governor would stand up for his constituents instead of remaining silent about Trump’s immigration plans, the people of Illinois would be better off,” Martinez said.
Evanston, Chicago and other Illinois cities are doing the right thing in vowing to stand strong against President Donald Trump’s efforts to shame and coerce them for offering sanctuary to immigrants, state Senator Daniel Biss said.
“President Trump’s actions this week are further evidence that he lacks a moral compass,” said Biss, an Evanston Democrat, in denouncing the president’s executive order pledging to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities around the nation.
Senator Patricia Van Pelt of Chicago sharply criticized Rauner for his comments on Chicago in the wake of Trump’s incendiary tweets about the city’s gun violence.
“Gov. 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,” she said.
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