Rauner's budget proposal needs more spending reforms

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Despite technical difficulties that cut off his prompter, Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his annual budget address Wednesday.

Rauner said in a video message to state employees last week that he would veto the Democrat-backed plan, which would appropriate money for state agencies to continue paying employees through the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Rauner said after combining the state's unfunded pension liability, backlogged bills and other overspending, it's obvious the state's debt is out of control. It says because the Thompson Center is an existing state asset, it doesn't count.

State Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, said he's afraid the budget address made passage of the senate's grand bargain budget proposal a more hard task.

But Democratic State Senator Dave Koehler says the governor is only driving more of a wedge.

Democrats in the Illinois Legislature erupted in laughter at Gov. Bruce Rauner's statements that he proposed a balanced budget in 2015 and that the impasse isn't about "assigning blame". State pension programs are $130 billion short of what they need to pay promised benefits to retired and current employees.

"Jackson says there are still big issues to tackle - including taxes and higher education funding - but he says there appears to be an air of collaboration in Springfield for now".

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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.

RAUNER: "Now, some people criticized because it had some pension change in it, and they said, 'Well that's - you shouldn't do that'".

If the state wanted to get current with the district, it would have to write a check for about $5 million. He also was open to broadening Illinois' sales tax base but rejected taxing food and medicine. He also called for additional MAP grant funding, although there is no MAP funding at this time.

"We still haven't seen the governor do that". He said the solution is Illinois' economy needs to grow faster than government spending.

"We can not raise taxes on people's groceries and medicine, just as we can not tax people's retirement incomes". That's the bipartisan plan hatched by top leaders in the Illinois Senate to finally slow Illinois' long fiscal decline.

Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis said a report released on February 1 by a bipartisan commission "recommends an equitable school funding formula that defines adequacy according to the needs of students within each school district".

MENDOZA: "The reality of it is we're going into a third year now without any proposal of significant value - I mean even the most basic balanced budget proposal - that is, per Article VIII, Section 2 of the Constitution, the governor's responsibility to do".

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