Frustration defined the first year for Illinois’s Chief Executive.
Governor Bruce Rauner shared his thoughts on the budget and his first year in a one on one interview. The Governor placed the blame on Democrats, particularly Speaker Michael Madigan, for the budget crisis.
“We should have had this done months ago,” Rauner said.
Rauner said he hates to see the people of Illinois suffer because of the lack of a budget. Rauner said he’s sorry to hear many college students won’t receive their Monetary Award Program grants this spring.
“I’m a personal big funder of scholarships for low income kids, I’m a big advocate for scholarships,” he said. “It’s frustrating me to know end that we’re not funding MAP grants.”
But despite frustrations from all sides, he said the state can’t fund tuition for low income college students without a budget.
“What we can’t do is get to a $5 billion deficit one bill at a time,” Rauner said.
Rauner said Democrats passed more than 500 bills last year. But he said none of them included revenue to fund their spending plan.
“None of them raise taxes to pay for any of their unbalanced budget, none of them fix the pension which we all acknowledge is broken and is in crisis,” Rauner said.
Rauner said he won’t be bullied into passing an income tax increase.
“If the Democrats believe the right thing to do is put in a big tax hike, they can do it,” he said.
Rauner said part of the budget problem is court orders and consent decrees that have kept most of the state funded. Rauner said they’re keeping him from enacting cost effective reforms.
“We need to change our system so we’re running the right way,” he said.
ACLU of Illinois spokesperson Edwin Yohnka said Rauner’s plan would destroy the protections established for the vulnerable during political battles.
“The reality is whether it’s children in child welfare or whether it’s the disabled in the state,” Yohnka said. “These are people who don’t have a super PAC.”
Yohnka said the real way to reform is passing a budget.
“There is a very simple way for the Governor to get rid of these consent decrees and that is to comply with their terms,” he said.
The Governor will have his chance to make his case to lawmakers in his state of the state address in two weeks.