* This was one of the more pointed exchanges during a Senate appropriations committee hearing yesterday featuring Gov. Rauner’s chief of staff Richard Goldberg…
“There were times that we believed, many times, in the Democratic caucus that we were going out on the floor to vote on the grand bargain and we were then informed that because the governor’s office was not supportive — didn’t think there was a deal good enough for him, goodness knows — that they weren’t going to be able to vote on it,” state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said.
“The Republican votes were coming off. That happened to us several times. The goalpost had continued to have been moved. So you can’t sit there and say that Democrats were not willing to vote on it. In the Senate, the Democrats and Republicans had been working very closely together, very collegially, and I’ve been very appreciative of that fact. And when things broke down it was because there was an intervention by the governor’s office. That’s not where we’re going with this. And that’s not where I want to go with this. ”
Goldberg said the governor is trying to be flexible.
“The goal posts haven’t moved. They’ve widened perhaps to make it easier to get an agreement. If they’re moving, they’re moving closer to you over the last two years,” Goldberg said. “I don’t know what else the governor can really do to make himself more clear to you that he is trying to achieve a truly balanced budget with changes to the system.”
“He can suggest that they vote on the grand bargain bills or else actually file an amendment,” Steans interjected, adding it’s not productive to lay blame on the General Assembly.
* Goldberg mostly held his tongue…
During the hearing, Goldberg pressed back on Senate Democrats’ repeated accusations that the Rauner administration has refused to outline specific budget cuts following a series of previous hearings where agency directors couldn’t, or didn’t, name any. Goldberg said it’s as if senators were operating “in a vacuum” or “alternative universe,” given that Rauner had in prior years proposed cuts to everything from higher education to programs that support autistic kids to child care support for low-income working parents.
“The governor is clear,” that he wants a balanced budget paired with structural changes such as term limits, a property tax freeze and overhaul of the workers’ compensation system that he believes will lead to a “booming economy,” Goldberg said.
“Now we’re here several weeks away from the end of session for FY18’s budget and I want to come back to what I want to say: We need to work together and get this done,” Goldberg said.