Gov. Bruce Rauner declared that Republicans were "winning" the state's budget dispute during a Wednesday night speech in Tuscola that focused on taxes and his Turnaround Agenda.
“Now we’re winning, but it’s taking longer than I’d like,” Rauner said. “But what I’ve said I won’t do is raise taxes on the people of Illinois until I know we’re getting more value for your taxes, and we’ve got real strong economic growth creating jobs in the state.”
Rauner told the roughly 150 people at the Douglas County Republican Party Lincoln Day dinner that he would fight against a “wasteful bureaucracy” and turn Illinois into a “pro-growth state.”
“People think it’s a fight about the budget,” he said. “It’s not really about the budget. It’s about the future of the state.”
Rauner has been steadfast in his opposition to tax increases during the state’s budget impasse. Illinois has been without an official budget since July of last year.
“Speaker Madigan and his legislators, what they want to fight me on is to raise taxes,” Rauner said. “That’s not the answer. Or to cut services. That’s not the answer either.”
Rauner addressed the state’s budget stalemate directly and stressed the impact it’s having on funding for colleges and universities as well as social services.
“Having no budget hurts people,” he said. “We should be funding our MAP grants. I believe low-income kids deserve a scholarship. We’ve got to provide our human services for our most vulnerable but we’ve got to stop spending money we don’t have and we’ve got to start growing our economy so our kids have a future.”
As a result of the budget impasse, some students have already lost scholarships and some colleges and universities may be forced to close due to lack of funding. Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, the state’s largest provider of social services, has also been forced to make cuts.
President Barack Obama also addressed the budget crisis during his historic speech in Springfield Wednesday.
"When I hear voices in either party boast of their refusal to compromise as an accomplishment in and of itself, I’m not impressed," Obama said. "All that does is prevent what most Americans would consider actual accomplishments, like fixing roads, educating kids, passing budgets, cleaning our environment, making our streets safe."
During his speech, Rauner also endorsed U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, who is seeking an 11th term in Congress, and Brad Halbrook, who is vying for the seat in the 102nd House District.