Budget Concerns Dominate Meeting Between Governor and Legislative Leaders

Nov 17, 2016

Gov. Bruce Rauner and all four leaders of the Illinois General Assembly met Wednesday to discuss pending issues after Democrats weren't able to make a previous meeting.  

Among the conversation topics was the state budget.  The Illinois deficit currently exceeds $10 billion, and a report from the governor's budget office says it could reach $47 billion within five years.  

A stopgap spending plan is in place through December, but Illinois remains without a complete budget.

Democrats say Illinois needs to focus on identifying cuts and hiking taxes.

"That (revenue) has to be one of the factors, as well as cuts, and that's what we talked about as well," said Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat.

Rauner says he'll go along with a tax increase if Democrats support his ideas, such as legislative term limits and curbing the power of unions.

"We haven't had balanced budgets in Illinois going back probably 30 years that I can tell. Always deficits, always more borrowing. And now all of a sudden. 'Oh! We've got to balance the budget this year and we can't do anything that doesn't immediately balance the budget immediately.' Come on.  Can we please be realistic about what's going on? We'll never have balanced budgets if our economy stays growing flat and our government spending keeps going on a rocket ship."

Rauner, Cullerton, House Speaker Michael Madigan, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno say they'll meet again.  However, they haven't set a date.