As the Illinois General Assembly prepares to reconvene in Springfield Tuesday for a second round of veto sessions, Gov. Bruce Rauner pushed for a full, balanced budget that includes a series of reforms from his “turnaround agenda.”
In an exclusive interview Monday with NBC 5, Rauner said he plans to meet with state leaders every day in Springfield for the next two weeks to hammer out a deal. The state’s current stopgap funding plan expires at the end of the year.
Last week, the governor explained that he had amended his 44-point agenda to a simple five-point plan, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Rauner’s plan is now focused solely on workers’ compensation reform, education reform, pension reform, term limits and a property tax freeze. In addition, the Republican is also championing reforms that would grow the state’s struggling economy.
“No one particular reform has to be on the table,” Rauner said Monday. “I’ll be flexible on whatever we do. The critical thing is, we have to send a message to job creators around the country and around the world that it’s a new day in Illinois."
"Come to illinois, invest here, so we can create more economic opportunity for the people of Illinois,” he added.
Earlier this month, House Speaker Michael Madigan appointed state Rep. Greg Harris to lead the house Democrats’ new budget negotiating team. Republicans balked at the announcement, claiming it signaled a step in the wrong direction for the ongoing budget negotiation process.
On Monday, Rauner said he encouraged Madigan to bring in other people, but noted that the speaker is ultimately the Democrats’ “decision maker."
"We had working groups work for 18 months, legislators from both parties,” Rauner said. "They came up with good ideas. At the time, the speaker said no, he wouldn’t let them go forward."
“I wanna make sure we don’t let any distractions happen,” he added. “We need the speaker’s full attention. I’ve asked to meet with him every day to try to get a deal done.”
Rauner faulted previous unbalanced budgets for the state’s precarious fiscal situation. The state’s bill backlog is nearly $11 billion and is expected to reach $14 billion by the end of the current fiscal year.
“This has been going on in Illinois for 30 years,” Rauner said. "I can’t find a balanced budget. I’m a financial person, I’ve studied the numbers. We either don’t pay our pensions, we don’t pay our bills or we borrow in the bond market. This has been going on for decades. It’s the reason we have the most debt of any state other than California. And California has triple our population."
“We need balanced budgets and we need to grow our economy.”
Additionally, Rauner said he was “strongly against” passing another stopgap budget Monday, claiming that would signal a “failure."
“We have a duty to have a balanced budget so we can have the resources to fund our human services, properly fund our schools,” Rauner said. “We need to change the structure of our government so we get more job creators, more economic opportunity in Illinois."