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Illinois Lawmakers Search For Cuts

Meagan Davis
/
Flickr

Illinois senators are putting Governor Bruce Rauner’s agency directors under the magnifying glass. It’s part of the ongoing fallout from Rauner’s move to block the bipartisan "grand bargain” — meant to end Illinois’ 20-month budget stalemate.

Rauner pulled Republican votes off the grand bargain — he’s holding out for what he calls a "good deal for taxpayers." But without the bargain, the governor's own budget proposal has a $4.6 billion deficit.

In a series of hearings, Democrats put this math problem to Rauner’s agency heads.

During a legislative hearing, Sen. Patricia Van Pelt of Chicago questioned Dr. Nirav Shah, of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

VAN PELT: "Can you tell me how you would reduce your budget by $22 million? If you can’t you just can’t."

SHAH: “Our proposed budget does not contain $22 million of cuts, so …"

VAN PELT: “Thank you."

Senate Democrats say there’s a reason Rauner was shut out of negotiations. They say they’ve been working on the deal for months, and have given up as much as they can.

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Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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