Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday rallied his top lieutenants and warned them to prepare for "the very real possibility that we are facing cash crisis and a major, major restructuring of the government."
In opening remarks to his full cabinet, Rauner continued his criticism of House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton for their refusal to negotiate parts of his "Illinois Turnaround" agenda in budget talks. If the standoff continues past the June 30 expiration of the current state budget, Rauner's top officials will bear the brunt of the financial chaos that may ensue.
"We're going to have to go into serious contingency planning now. We've got to prepare to run the government as best we can with the resources we have, make sure we take care of the most vulnerable, run the government with the priorities covered and do the best we can in the circumstances," Rauner said. "I'm sorry your jobs are about to get a lot harder but we'll get through this."
The budget deadlock has two components.
First is Madigan and Cullerton's budget plan, which both admit spends $3 billion more than the state will take in during the budget year that starts July 1. Rauner says it's more like $4 billion. Madigan and Cullerton say Rauner should join them in finding cuts and new tax sources to close the gap. Though each chamber passed a set of budget bills, none have been delivered to Rauner. Doing so would all but assure a veto and would be a setback to reviving negotiations.
Second is Rauner's condition for joining budget negotiations. He wants the General Assembly to pass five pieces of his agenda - term limits, lawsuit reform, workers compensation reform, a property tax freeze bill and legislative redistricting reform -- before he'll even consider discussing new taxes. Madigan and Cullerton say those are "non-budget issues" that shouldn't be used as leverage in budget talks.
To Rauner, it's all one issue.
"Some folks have said we shouldn't talk about reforms, we should only talk about budget. Well let's be crystal clear. Reforms are at the core of the budget. Reforms are what the budget should reflect... If we're not competitive and growing, we won't be funding our budget," Rauner said.
Read the rest, plus watch the video of Rauner, at Reboot Illinois.
On another political playing field, the explicit fight is over. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel beat Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia in the mayoral election in April. Roosevelt University professor and director for the Institute of Politics Paul Green took a look back on the historic campaign season (the city's first to head to a runoff) and why the results came out the way they did. Check out the analysis at Reboot Illinois.
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