Joliet area legislators react to Rauner's budget address

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool has been feuding with Gov. Bruce Rauner over school funding. | File

At noon Wednesday, Gov. Rauner delivered his third budget address.

Although Governor Bruce Rauner isn't shy about voicing his support for the Senate's attempt at a bi-partisan budget agreement, he doesn't like all aspects of the Grand Bargain. However, as it stands, it would leave a $7 billion hole without matching revenue.

"Working together - in a civil and honest manner - is the vehicle needed that will get us to the right destination for the state, a true balanced budget".

Democrats have been saying Rauner has never proposed a balanced budget - shirking his constitutional and statutory duty.

Two years ago, our first budget address began with these same words.

Skittish lawmakers staring down a Senate tax vote had urged the governor to weigh in.

Rauner said he would not support an increase in taxes on groceries and medicines and urged lawmakers to consider a permanent property tax freeze to go along with a proposed permanent increase in the state income tax.

Michael Rebell, a professor at Columbia University's Teachers College, who tracks school funding litigation, said plaintiffs have prevailed in 23 states since 1989, while IL is one of 16 states where funding challenges have failed.


Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool says in a news release that "Chicago students, who are overwhelmingly students of color, are learning in a separate but unequal system".

But Democrats who hold majorities in both the House and Senate were unimpressed. We have to say we have 33 billion dollars how are we going to spend it? The governor says he wants to increase state aid for other school programs, like English Language Learning classes and early childhood education. That prompted a round of laughter from Democrats in the chamber. "Over time, as our economy grows and revenues expand, any increase in the income tax could be stepped down - dedicating future surpluses to taxpayers, not more government spending".

Rauner also doesn't want to see a permanent state income tax increase unless there's a freeze on property taxes.

However, the governor continues to say he is also willing to accept some unspecified amount of tax hikes in exchange for some economic and governance reforms.

But the picture is bleak.

Illinois' unpaid bills have almost doubled from the $6 billion Rauner inherited when he took office in January 2015, according to a Jan. 25 statement from Comptroller Susana Mendoza in response to the governor's State of the State Address. The shortfall, totaling $4.6 billion, is to be filled through negotiations on a "grand bargain".

Governor Bruce Rauner says he is proposing a record level of funding for IL schools.

The governor should reject tax hikes and push for the structural spending reforms IL needs to fix its fiscal crisis and improve its economy.

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