Gov. Rauner and Democratic IL legislature locked in budget stalemate

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SPRINGFIELD, IL (KPLR) – Illinois is operating without a state budget thanks to a political impasse inside the state Capitol.  Republican Governor Bruce Rauner insists his agenda to foster more economic growth must be approved before he talks about budget deals with the Democrat Party dominated legislature.

The state has been without a budget since the new fiscal year began July 1. Gov. Rauner vetoed one budget measure his supporters say was four billion dollars out of balance.

Tuesday Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan told fellow House members “We are involved in what will be viewed as an historic struggle between two branches of government when the number one issue facing this state is a budget deficit.”

Madigan insisted lawmakers were trying to meet the governor halfway.  Tuesday a bi-partisan majority approved a bill cancelling the automatic cost of living pay increase for legislators.  But the Senate won’t return until August 4th, several days after the raise is likely to show up in paychecks.

Edwardsville Republican State Rep. Dwight Kay reacted saying, “I don’t think the Speaker cares for the Governor’s turnaround agenda.  It’s the first time a governor has tried to change the pattern of conduct and the behavior as well as create jobs.”

Belleville Democrat State Rep. Jay Hoffman complained Rauner is demanding non-budgetary items be approved as a condition of discussing the budget.  “It’s something we’ve never seen in Illinois and I don’t know that we’ve ever seen it in any other state in the nation.”  Hoffman said the governor’s agenda will “decimate the middle class.”

“I believe there have to be cuts,” Hoffman noted pointing out the budget the Legislature sent to the governor included cuts to Medicaid and other services.  “Unfortunately he determined he wanted to veto that budget and he did and it’s put us into this crisis.”

Kay said the Democrats delivered a spending bill which they called a “budget” but never assigned a revenue number to it.  “It was kind of irresponsible,” he said.  Kay likes Rauner’s new approach.  “We’ve had unbalanced budgets since the year 2000 and that’s why we’re in the mess we’re in today.  Trying to do it differently with a Turnaround agenda should be refreshing. We shouldn’t be fighting it we should be embracing it,” he said.

Gov. Rauner praised House members for turning down the automatic raise and urged the Senate to do the same.  He said he is ”ready to work with Speaker Madigan and all members of the General Assembly to pass true structural reforms and a balanced budget.”