Senate Dems react to governor's Fiscal 2019 budget address

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This afternoon, the General Assembly heard Governor Rauner introduce his budget plans for Fiscal Year 2019. While they continue to read through details of the governor's intended spending and revenue for the year, they are providing their initial reactions to the content of the speech.

Senator Don Harmon (Oak Park) said, “The governor failed basic budget math today. Forcing another government to pay your bills does not cut government spending or reduce the burden on taxpayers. It just shifts the blame to somebody else. Avoiding blame seems to be the governor’s specialty. We’ve talked about responsibly shifting new teacher pension costs to school districts, but in a way that won’t hit property taxpayers. No one who is serious about governing would ever suggest the rapid and crippling ‘cost-shift’ the governor proposed today.”

“Secondly, you can’t brag about giving schools an additional $350 million while at the same time forcing $490 million in new costs on them. That’s not an increase – it’s a $140 million decrease," Harmon continued. “The governor may tout the education funding reform bill as an accomplishment of his, but his proposed budget breaks the deal we made to increase funding for schools.”

Other senators' statements:

Senator Scott Bennett (Champaign): “I heard very little in the budget address today to make me believe that the governor has come to understand the importance of education and a willingness to turn the tide and stand up for our local schools, colleges and universities. His proposed budget only adds financial pressure on schools and universities that have already been starved and endured three years of chaos and uncertainty during the budget stalemate that he created. The cost shift all but condemns already resource-strapped schools to raise property taxes, increase tuition costs or eliminate jobs.  We need to find a right way forward that doesn’t unload billions of dollars onto our schools and communities."

Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (Shorewood): “Gov. Bruce Rauner spent months touting himself as the education governor yet once again his budget fails to put the necessary money into our schools to ensure the bipartisan school funding formula achieves our goals of ending years of disparities and inequality in our classrooms. His budget is going to force schools to raise property taxes despite the historic reforms we passed last year.”

Senator Melinda Bush (Grayslake): “Today, the governor proposed a plan to cut retirement incomes, slash important human service programs and shift the state’s financial responsibilities to local governments. It’s a plan that would shift costs to those who can least afford it: property tax payers, seniors and low- and middle-income families. The governor touted an increase in funding for Illinois schools, an increase that is required by the school funding bill he vetoed, but he didn’t highlight how much property taxes would go up under his proposal to shift costs from the state to local school districts. Lake County has some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Under Rauner’s plan, Lake County residents would be forced to pay even higher property taxes to maintain school quality.”

Senator Cristina Castro (Elgin): “The governor isn’t budgeting for results. What Governor Rauner presents on paper is never the true reality of our situation: that we have over $9 billion in unpaid bills and no real plan for paying it off. He says he wants to roll back taxes, increase education funding and invest in human services, but his budget does the opposite.

Senator James F. Clayborne Jr. (Belleville): “The governor’s plan saddles local schools with the choice of raising property taxes or firing teachers due to a lack of resources. This, coupled with the governor’s aim for a property tax freeze, will suffocate local schools and could force drastic cuts. While his budget may appear balanced, it is clear that this budget will hurt working class communities that have struggled under his failed leadership.”

Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (Chicago): “The governor steered us into a quagmire and it is apparent that he has no roadmap to the other side. I hope the General Assembly can come together, as we have before, to provide a responsible alternative.”

Senator Tom Cullerton (Villa Park): “Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to raise property taxes. His budget gives our schools no other choice.”

Senator Bill Haine (Alton): “Once again, the governor failed to introduce a balanced budget that protects Madison county families. Today’s proposal will result in more of the same – layoffs at SIU-Edwardsville, cuts to services for seniors and those with disabilities and a significant property tax increase. It’s time for the governor to finally drop the campaign rhetoric and get to work on a real budget that works for Illinois families.”

Senator Napoleon Harris III (Harvey):  “I agree with the governor that we need to prioritize our spending in areas like education, social services and infrastructure. What I don’t agree with is saying we want to invest more in these areas while cutting essential services.  My concern is that the governor’s plan will lead to property tax increases and will do nothing to better serve our children. I hope we can continue to look at this spending plan and get to a place where our most vulnerable populations aren’t taking devastating service cuts and our children’s education is improving.”

Senator Michael E. Hastings (Tinley Park): “This is the fourth budget address under Gov. Bruce Rauner. Two of his budgets resulted in state courts dictating our state budget. Last year’s budget required the General Assembly to work together in a bipartisan manner to override his veto.  So this year it comes as no surprise that his budget is more than $2.5 billion out of balance. I expect the legislature to be force to once again pass a budget without his help this year due to his inability to work with legislators from both parties.”

Senator Linda Holmes (Aurora): “The governor’s latest budget proposal is full of accounting tricks and irresponsible cuts that will create burdens for taxpayers in the future. By shifting a large portion of pension costs to local school districts, Rauner’s latest budget could lead to higher property taxes and greater educational inequality. The proposal also does little to address the state’s backlog of bills, which was most recently reported at nearly $9 billion with more than $900 million in late fees.”

Senator Toi Hutchinson (Chicago Heights): “Today’s budget address acknowledges the devastating impact of the past three years of chaos in Illinois. Fewer working families are taking advantage of child care assistance to work or further their education. Fewer individuals suffering with mental illness are receiving care. And fewer Illinoisans struggling with the pains of addiction are receiving life-saving treatment. The governor failed today to convey the seriousness of the issues facing Illinois and the tragic effects the budget impasse is continuing to have in our communities."

Senator Mattie Hunter (Chicago): “This governor continues to offer dispassionate cuts to the programs that impact the lives of so many people in this state. I beg the governor to roll up his sleeves and join us at the bargaining table this year. He and his administration need to take a walk in somebody else’s shoes for once, because these cuts do more harm than good to the people we serve. We in the Senate have reached bipartisan support on a number of budgetary issues, and I suggest he join us. Last year, we passed a plan that provided certainty and stability to violence prevention, health care and addiction treatment services, along with programs like Teen Reach. This year, he plans to cut funding for those services. We understand we cannot have everything, but we need to, at least, keep the services that help people rebuild productive lives in the communities that need it most.”

Senator Emil Jones III (Chicago): "He proposed a four percent cut to Medicaid which is totally unacceptable when hospitals are already suffering. The governor has expressed publicly that he does not have control of this state and I refuse to stand by and watch my community suffer at the hands of Governor Rauner and his useless political agenda.”

Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (Maywood): “The governor’s speech today was disingenuous. His pension cost shift offsets the investment in education he says he’s making, which would put districts who cannot afford the cost shift further away from adequate funding. That does not increase the quality of education for our children. Furthermore, the cuts in social services show that he cannot fully fund our new education formula and he needs to come up with real solutions. We cannot keep letting our most vulnerable populations take the hit for his lack of governing.”

Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills): “We saw today that the governor is still refusing to propose meaningful solutions to solve Illinois’ financial problems and move the state forward. Instead of providing critical funding for our schools, the governor wants to shift more costs to our local governments, which would result in higher property taxes for Illinoisans. My constituents can’t afford Rauner’s cost-shifting shell game. They need the governor to take charge and be a real problem solver for our state.”

Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (Chicago): “The governor’s proposed budget will disproportionately harm low-income, minority and immigrant communities through deep cuts to programs like childcare assistance, addiction prevention and treatment services, immigrant integration services and welcoming centers. With these communities already under attack from the federal government, I would hope that our governor would stand up for the most vulnerable among us. I am once again disappointed that he did not.”

Senator Andy Manar (Bunker Hill): “Gov. Rauner’s budget proposal is another thinly veiled attack on public education, public-sector workers and downstate families. It’s not the first time he’s proposed gutting health care for retired teachers, prison guards, veterans home workers, child welfare specialists and thousands of other public employees in central and southern Illinois."

Senator Julie Morrison (Deerfield): “I am concerned with the governor’s proposed reductions to vital human service programs, including addiction treatment services and mental health care. While I am concerned about further cuts to our already fragile social safety net, I am optimistic that in the coming weeks and months, we will be able to work with the governor and pass a balanced budget that works for all Illinoisans.”

Senator John G. Mulroe (Chicago): “The governor failed to address how he will pay down the backlog of bills that grew to $16 billion under the impasse. He spent without authorization last year and accrued a billion dollars in late interest payments. We cannot ignore our debts. The governor needs to take responsibility for the role he played in creating this fiscal crisis by presenting an honest approach to paying down our bills.”

Senator Laura Murphy (Des Plaines): “The governor failed to deliver a balanced budget his first three years in office, the detrimental effects of which Illinoisans still feel today. Now he plans to push the burden of balancing his budget onto middle- and low-income taxpayers. His budget proposal shifts existing pension costs onto local school districts, which will significantly increase property taxes for homeowners. I do not believe that increasing property taxes to solve the budget crisis is the answer. We need a realistic plan that doesn’t balance the budget on the backs of the middle class.”

Senator Ira I. Silverstein (Chicago): “The governor plans to shift a shocking amount of funding responsibility for teachers’ pensions to school districts – which means even greater increases to property taxes would be likely to accommodate this drastic shift.”

Senator Steve Stadelman (Rockford): “Once again, the governor’s rhetoric failed to match reality. He says he wants to reduce property taxes, but today’s proposal will result in a significant property tax increase on Rockford families.  I appreciate the governor’s call for cutting back government, but his priorities are misplaced. While he proposes cutting autism and addiction prevention services, he also proposed spending $30 million on a horse barn in Springfield. The governor needs to drop his campaign talking points and lay out a balanced budget that addresses our $8 billion backlog of bills and puts our state on stable financial footing.”

Senator Heather Steans (Chicago): “This is the closest the Rauner administration has ever come to a real, balanced budget, which I appreciate. That said, I have some serious concerns about his cuts to human services, Medicaid and retired pensioners to whom we have a contractual obligation. I look forward to working across the aisle to tackle Illinois’ fiscal challenges.”

Senator Patricia Van Pelt (Chicago): “For the fourth year in a row, Governor Rauner introduced a plan to devastate Illinois’ most vulnerable residents by slashing programs that are necessary to end the cycle of poverty and help low-income families succeed. His cuts to After School Matters and Teen Reach would be dangerous for young people who might otherwise be on the streets. Rauner has touted his work on criminal justice reform, but his cuts to important human service programs show that he’s more interested in talking about criminal justice reform than making the necessary investments in our communities that would make a real difference in the long run.”