Rauner’s First Anniversary as Governor Marred by Ongoing Budget Battle

It's been a rocky road for Gov. Bruce Rauner in his first year in office as the state budget stalemate continues in its fifth month.

Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of Rauner's election, and residents and fellow lawmakers appear to have mixed feelings about the governor.

During an education committee meeting the same day, lawmakers expressed varying opinions on the governor's performance, but most of them have come to the same conclusion that something must be done to solve the budget crisis, and soon.

"We cannot continue along the same path that we have with the one party, regardless of what party it is," said state Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Peru).

Just like Rauner, other lawmakers have indicated that they won't back down in budget talks either.

"He can exhaust us, but he can't defeat us," said state Sen. William Delgado (D-Chicago).

The fight over the governor's call for reform has him in a standoff with House Speaker Mike Madigan, who said Tuesday that the governor needs to find balance.

"We have to get together, talk, negotiate, do some cuts and do some new revenue," Madigan said. "There should be a balanced approach." 

The governor's staff pointed out that in his first year, he has saved the state $22 million with a new lottery deal and saved $15 million on the state air fleet. He also made sure the income tax was rolled back, but other questions remain about how state services and schools, including the Chicago Public Schools district, will continue to operate without a budget.

In a twist of irony, former Gov. Pat Quinn, whom Rauner defeated last year, made a public appearance at a pro-union rally in Chicago Wednesday. Although he did not address Rauner or the budget stalemate, his encouragement of unionization stands in contrast to the governor's stance on unions this past year.

At a speaking event Monday, Rauner offered no indication that he would relent on his pro-business "Turnaround Agenda," but he did predict the stalemate would end sometime in January.

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