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Rauner Is Optimistic About Budget, Active On Clemencies

Phil Masterton / WNIJ

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he is optimistic that lawmakers will pass a budget by the end of the month. 

The Republican chief executive recently canceled a meeting with Democratic leaders, but he says the back-up plan is to pass a temporary budget. Rauner says Democrats also would have to pass at least two of his policy items. 

"Every reform that we’re pushing has strong bipartisan support," the governor said. "That’s why I’m optimistic in the end that members of the Democratic caucus in the General Assembly will come around and vote for some of these reforms."

Rauner says freezing property taxes and placing term limits on elected officials are “easy votes.”


Democrats have said the governor shouldn’t tie his political reforms to the budget process.


Meanwhile, Rauner says he's almost eliminated a backlog of 2,300 requests for clemency.


Rauner rejected most applicants, but he says he’s trying to address criminal justice issues in ways previous governors did not.


"We need criminal justice in Illinois to work to keep the people safe but also to make sure we’re not only about punishment," he said. "We’re about rehabilitation, job training, addiction treatment, mental health services to prevent the crime in the first place."


Clemency can refer to requests to be released from prison, but most are requests for pardons from inmates who have already served their time or trying to clear their records.