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Democratic State Senators Reject Gov. Rauner's Push For Expanded Budgetary Powers

Democratic state senators rejected a push by Republicans to give Governor Bruce Rauner powers that would allow broad spending cuts.  

Only a few areas would be off limits, such as debt payments and elementary education. At a hearing, Democrat Don Harmon pushed Rauner's budget director, Scott Harry to explain what the governor planned to cut.  

"If we were to give you this power today, what cuts would you make? You tell me you don’t have any cuts that you would make. ... Doesn’t it make sense to come to us with a list of cuts that you would make unilaterally if given the power to do so?” Harmon said.   

"“The list does not exist," Harry responded.

The hearing came a week after numerous Rauner agency directors also refused to answer questions about what they would cut.  Democrats rejected the proposal. The administration says it’s “deeply disappointed."

Rauner’s budget proposal relies on the Senate’s grand bargain to address a $4.6 billion dollar deficit. However, the governor pulled Republicans off what was supposed to be a final set of votes.  He said it wasn’t yet a good deal.

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.