Gov. Bruce Rauner toured the state Wednesday, pushing stopgap measures to fund schools and other essential government services after the Illinois General Assembly did not pass a budget plan before the end of the spring legislative session Tuesday.
Rauner toured a variety of institutions Wednesday that would be impacted by a prolonged impasse, incuding the Vienna Correctional Center, Alton Mental Health Center and Quincy State Board of Education.
During his speech in Vienna Wednesday, the governor said he created stopgap measures because school funding was integrated into House Speaker Mike Madigan’s budget proposal, which he says is $7 billion out of balance. He also said that Democratic lawmakers were relying on Illinois taxpayers to bail out Chicago Public Schools and that their funding plan would require tax hikes.
“They put school funding inside the large, unbalanced budget, integrated it so i can’t separate it, so they can hold up school funding for the massive unbalanced budget that’s going to force our income tax up over 5.5 percent,” Rauner said.
Rauner’s talking points in Vienna were similar to what he said Tuesday evening. He faulted Democrats for the state’s failings, like having the highest deficits, highest debt and highest unfunded pensions of any American state.
Rauner introduced the stopgap measures Tuesday evening, but the Illinois Constitution requires legislation to be read three times on three separate days, so they were not eligible for a vote that same evening. The two bills were dedicated to funding the state's K-12 education and other essential government services, like state colleges and social services. Rauner asked attendees at the event to urge their representatives to push for the legislation.
“We’ve got two bills in front of the General Assembly right now that need to pass right now,” Rauner said. “We asked for them to pass it yesterday, they said they’d think about it. They said they want to wait and use it as leverage to force a tax hike.”
Under Rauner's proposed K-12 funding plan, schools would be fully-funded with more money. Rauner said an additional $105 million would be allocated to give extra funding to school districts that get less under the state's funding formula. During his speech, Rauner noted the funding formula was put in place under Illinois Democrats in 2003.
Rauner also discussed a seperate bill that looks to fund the state's essential government services, university system, healthcare system and corrections system through January. Rauner noted that Senate President John Cullerton had told him that Democrats were holding out on voting on reforms until after November's general election, so the bill would serve as a stop-gap until serious discussions resume.
The Illinois General Assembly adjourned Tuesday evening without a clear budget solution. Earlier in the evening, the Illinois Senate shot down Madigan’s out of balance budget proposal and the House shot down a Democratic K-12 education stopgap that mirrored the spending plan from Madigan’s proposal. That plan was passed in the Senate earlier Tuesday night.
Rauner had choice words for Democrats throughout his Wednesday speech, calling their inability to pass a balanced budget a "stunning failure."
Illinois has gone without a budget since July of last year. State colleges, universities and social services have suffered as a result of the lack of funding. The budget standoff has largely hinged on a battle between Rauner and Illinois Democrats over the governor’s pro-business, union-weakening Turnaround Agenda.