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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Rauner: 'Treading Water' On Agenda, Budget

Brian Mackey
Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke in public Wednesday for the first time since Tuesday's big summit with legislative leaders. He says he is still defending his decision not to negotiate a budget until Democrats approve his agenda.

Rauner says he's not expecting quick progress in his standoff with Democrats in the General Assembly. The governor says he wants Illinois to be more business-friendly.

Rauner's also proposing legislation to weaken labor unions, which is something Democrats say they'll never do.

"My sense is we're in a little bit of a treading water phase," Rauner said. "So my sense is we'll have a dialog, but we all know where we are."

Democrats have lately begun saying Illinois is "awash in debt." Though a mix of court orders and stopgap measure, the state is spending much more than it's expected to collect in taxes.

But Rauner says it's worth it.

"We're taking short-term pain for big long-term gain. That's what's going on here. To get wrapped up in. 'Well, what's our deficit this month?" What's our deficit been for 30 years? And what's it going to be if we get the structural changes for the next 10?"

Universities and social service agencies are struggling. They haven't seen state money in months.

Democrats say the main focus ought to be on the budget. Rauner says they just want a tax hike without "reform" -- which, he says, will not fix Illinois's problems.

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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