SPRINGFIELD, IL - Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner gave the final budget address of his term Wednesday afternoon, hoping to avoid another chaotic budget fight like the more than two-year impasse that ended in July.
Rauner said the state still cannot control its habit of spending more than it takes in.
"The FY 2018 budget, enacted last July over my veto, is running a huge deficit that proves the point," Rauner said. "That unbalanced budget was built on the back of a $4.5 billion income tax increase, $6 billion in long-term debt, and a still increasing backlog of unpaid bills expected to rise to $7.7 billion by the end of this fiscal year."
Rauner rolled out some steps to free up billions of dollars to get the state out of the red.
Rauner wants schools and local governments to pick up more of their pension costs and he wants more health-care cost sharing for state employees.
Rauner also said the state should sell the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago and lower worker's compensation rates.
"Let's face it. For middle-class wage earners and young mobile workers, the pension crisis is not about the politics that are played in Springfield," Rauner said. "It's about how much money we are taking out of their pockets. The people of Illinois are taxed out."
One Metro-East democrat is skeptical about the proposal, arguing this budget would not help Rauner accomplish his goal of lowering property taxes.
"Now you're talking about shifting a lot of the cost to the locals, whether it’s the local governments, whether its municipalities and/or school districts, you're shifting costs to them which in my mind means an increase in the revenue that they must have or reductions and cuts," said state Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville.
However, Rauner is convinced his ideas will put money back into people's pockets and said it will free up more money over the next few years for schools and infrastructure.
"Let's do this budget. Let's fix our systems. Let's give fiscal integrity to our people," Rauner said. "Let's roll back the tax hike and give power and prosperity back to the people of Illinois."
Rauner said his budget will allow lawmakers to roll back the 32 percent income tax increase passed onto taxpayers last summer.