SPRINGFIELD – After a week of testimonies from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s cabinet members on potential cuts they could make in their departments, it’s clear that Rauner has no plan to balance his proposed budget.
“Governor Rauner has once again proved that he is all talk and no action,” Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) said. “He has spent the past two years harping on the need to reduce spending, but when given the opportunity to offer cuts, his cabinet members were silent.”
Senate Public Health Committee Chairwoman Van Pelt is one of several Senate committee chairs who spent the week asking state agency directors what programs they intend to cut to help balance the nearly $5 billion in deficits Gov. Rauner proposed.
“Every state agency across the board would need to cut spending by 20 percent to achieve the balanced budget the governor wants,” Van Pelt said. “I am absolutely stunned that Gov. Rauner hasn’t even asked agency directors to provide a list of cuts they could make in their departments. Every day without a budget costs the state $11 million. The governor should be offering solutions, but instead he is creating chaos and destruction.”
The move by Senate committee chairs comes one week after Gov. Rauner derailed the Senate’s bipartisan plan to resolve the state’s budget impasse. Agency directors have been asked to return to Senate committees next week with a detailed list of cuts.
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in light of the inability of Rauner administration agency heads to identify possible spending cuts during committee hearings:
The governor presented a budget that is now $5 billion out of balance. When members of the Senate asked his agency directors how they could contribute to filling this gap, none of them were able to identify a single dollar to help balance the budget.
The fact that the governor stifled the Senate’s grand bargain negotiations when his budget relied on the grand bargain to help balance his budget tells me that the governor is more interested in creating chaos than fiscal stability. By continuing to push his partisan priorities, the governor is hurting taxpayers, businesses and families. Every day that we don’t resolve this budget crisis, $11 million is added to the state’s debt and our backlog of bills grows.
Though the governor’s budget proposal is now $5 billion out of balance, I remain determined to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find compromise and fill the budget gap the governor created.
SPRINGFIELD – Members of the Illinois Senate are calling on their colleagues to focus solely on solving the state’s budget crisis after the governor managed to derail a bipartisan compromise.
State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) says passing a budget should be everyone’s top priority.
“Continuing to not have a budget is unacceptable,” said Koehler. “I do not know how the state can survive if we do not come to a reasonable compromise.”
A budget agreement negotiated between Senate President John Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno appeared to be ready for voting on until the governor began calling off Republican senators, saying the legislation didn’t go far enough to cut spending.
This week, Koehler and other committee chairs held hearings to allow agencies under the governor’s control to show where they could cut their budgets. Administration officials were unable to offer any specifics on how much they could cut.
“Governor Rauner has never submitted a balanced budget to the General Assembly, something he is constitutionally required to do,” said Koehler.
SPRINGFIELD -- State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, asked Illinois Department of Natural Resources Chief of Staff Brent Krebs why he and the department that he oversees remain optimistic about the passage of the grand bargain.
“You said that you are optimistic with the governor’s office and his budget people working on the grand bargain, which he has now blown up three or four times,” Holmes said. “With the governor’s budget being $4.6 billion out of balance, I want to know why you feel that this can be rectified without cuts to agencies such as yours, which have been pretty much decimated.”
Krebs responded that morale is still high in his department and that current budget woes have no effect on his optimism. “I maintain that an agreement can be reached,” Krebs said. “Without getting mired in the details of your negotiation, I’m convinced that we can get this thing done with some more negotiations.”
“I wish I shared your optimism,” Holmes said.
The bipartisan package of legislation known as the grand bargain was thrown off track last week when Gov. Rauner contacted Republican legislators and convinced them to vote against the package of interconnected proposals. Rauner’s move was a surprise to many, who pointed to the governor’s reliance on the framework’s revenue bills to close an almost $5 billion shortfall in his budget proposal and his public commentary praising the senate’s negotiations.
“I think you’re going to have to look at some cuts unless we get the governor to decide that he’s going to come up with revenue increases or even negotiate,” Holmes told Krebs. “At this point, Rome is burning. We need to do something.”