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Governor Rauner Ducks State Payment Question

Charlie Schlenker

Politicians of all parties often sidestep awkward questions.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner followed that tradition during a stop at Heartland Community College in Normal on Wednesday.Reporters asked the Republican whether social service agencies with signed state contracts should be paid the same way state workers are being paid in the absence of a state budget and appropriation authority from the General Assembly? Many human service agencies have spent their reserves, laid off workers, cut programs, and are contemplating closing because they cannot wait longer for payment of state obligations.

Rauner answered by saying there are many issues that could be debated. Then he shifted ground.

"If there is going to be continuing appropriation for legislators but if there is no budget, legislators pay should not be at the top. Legislators should be paid after human services, after school children and teachers. And they should be in the bottom of the pile, not at the top of the pile," said Rauner.

The Republican Rauner also said he has asked Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza wage a court battle to continue paying state workers regardless of the budget impasse. Mendoza defeated former Comptroller Leslie Munger who had waged just such a battle.

Democrats and Republicans in Illinois are also rehashing old arguments in advance of the Governor's budget address next week. Democrats like to point out Governor Bruce Rauner has not proposed a balanced budget during his time in office, though he is constitutionally required to do so. Rauner asked why he should bother when the Democratic controlled House and Senate refused to even debate his spending plan his first year in office?

"If you are going to completely ignore what I propose, then propose something that balances yourself. Or, as I said last year, if you want me to balance the budget I will, but don't ignore it. Let me do it. Give me the authorization to do it," said Rauner.

Rauner also claims his first budget did balance, though there was wide disagreement on the impact of those pension change provisions and the legality of what Rauner claimed for that plan.


WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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