* The House Democrats have lately taken to demanding that Gov. Rauner produce a “real” budget plan…
The governor and leaders are meeting as Illinois approaches a deadline: When 2016 is over, so is a temporary spending plan.
Rauner continues to prioritize an agenda he says will grow the economy in the long run; Democrats continue to resist those plans.
House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman, Steve Brown, says passing a budget should come first. Madigan has brought in one rank-and-file legislator, Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris, to be part of budget discussions, and says Madigan will call for other legislators to do the same.
“It’s one thing to say ‘Well, we’ll do a budget and then we’ll do these other matters and then maybe we’ll find a way to fund it. I think people have fundamental questions about the budget as the first step,” Brown said. “What’s going to be in that budget? Are you going to continue to devastate higher education, for example? Are you going to continue to put real … limits on some of the social service programs, around there? How do you expect them to function? And so I think there’s key questions on the budget that have to be answered.”
* But a Tribune columnist claims Rauner has already done so…
One of the naysayers’ favorite ways to shift blame for the state’s financial mess is to assert that Rauner never introduced legitimate, authentic, balanced budgets.
False, false and false.
The first budget Rauner balanced in 2015 was the remainder of the 2014 budget that Democrats knowingly underfunded and then left in his lap. Then Rauner introduced a budget for fiscal year 2016 — the 12 months that ended June 30 — that anticipated savings from pension reform. The savings were dependent on the Illinois Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of altering pension benefits.
But a few months after Rauner introduced that budget, the court struck down the pension changes. Yes, a hole was blown into Rauner’s budget. But not because he was playing games or was derelict in his duty. […]
This year, Rauner essentially introduced two budgets. The first included a hole that his aides openly acknowledged and planned to fill with new taxes, if the legislature would agree to reforms. If the legislature didn’t agree to a compromise and new revenue, Rauner proposed a backup budget that would have required the General Assembly to untie his hands. He would make cuts himself, but he needed the legislature to unlock the handcuffs that mandate certain spending practices, such as Medicaid rates.
But he didn’t actually propose any of those specific cuts this year. He just left a gigantic hole in the budget and said they’d somehow work it all out. That wasn’t a “legitimate, authentic, balanced” budget in any way, shape or form.