Gov Rauner threatens cutting programs to fix budget

Governor Rauner threatens to cut spending on a number of programs throughout the state in an attempt to show that the prospective state budget won’t work.  Rauner, Jason Wambsgans, TribuneHe is looking at cutting detention centers, museums, state planes, Illiana toll road and other programs aimed at the poor.

Original Chicago Tribune Article by Rick Pearson, Monique Garcia and Alejandra Cancino, June 2, 2015.  Photo by E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune)

Rauner starts budget cuts to force Dems to negotiate on his agenda

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday said he will cut spending on programs that help the poor with child care costs and help the elderly stay out of nursing homes, nix the proposed Illiana toll road, close state museums and suspend tax credits for businesses and film production.

The Republican governor billed his moves as a way to show how he will deal with a deficit-ridden Democratic state budget that’s yet to reach his desk. It also represents Rauner’s latest attempt to ratchet up pressure on Democratic lawmakers to agree to the pro-business, anti-union agenda he’s made a condition of getting a budget agreement.

Many of Rauner’s actions appeared aimed at separating rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers from House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. The two Chicago Democrats control the House and Senate, and have presented a largely unified front against the Republican governor.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration says it is reviewing Illinois juvenile detention centers for closings and preparing to shutter state museums and will ground state aircraft if there’s no budget agreement. (WGN-TV)
In a statement, the Rauner administration repeatedly referred to the budget plan approved under Madigan and Cullerton as “broken” and “phony” while outlining steps it claimed would save $400 million. The administration did not provide details on its math, however.

Among the moves is increasing copayments for low-income parents who get child care subsidies and declining new applicants. Rauner also said background checks for relatives who receive stipends for providing child care will begin, which could result in some caregivers being knocked from the program.

In addition, Rauner wants to put income limits on the Community Care Program, which helps seniors get services at home in order to avoid going into nursing homes. The administration did not say what the income levels would be.

Other moves include shutting down up to two juvenile correctional centers and closing the Illinois State Museum in Springfield and four outposts.

In a shot appeared leveled at Madigan, Cullerton and their top deputies, Rauner said he would ground the state’s airplane fleet July 1, the start of the new budget year. As a candidate, Rauner had vowed to sell the planes, which top lawmakers from the Chicago area use to shuttle between the city and Springfield.

“Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton and the politicians they control refuse to act responsibly and reform state government,” Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said in a statement. “It is time they come to the table with Gov. Rauner to turn around Illinois.”

But Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon defended the Democratic budget as a “statement of our priorities” and said Rauner’s moves were divisive in terms of trying to reach a final budget agreement.

“Unfortunately, today’s actions signal that the governor would rather slash child care, services for troubled youth and senior care rather than work on a bipartisan budget solution,” she said.

The Democratic-passed spending plan, which is more than $3 billion short, is key to the dispute between the new Republican governor and legislative leaders that has extended the legislative session beyond last Sunday’s scheduled adjournment. Though they passed the spending plan, Democrats did not send it immediately to Rauner because of his vows not to sign it.

Democrats have said that they want a budget balanced through a combination of cuts and new revenue. Rauner has said that he is open to finding more money, but only after Democrats accede to elements of what the governor calls his “turnaround agenda,” which includes changes in workers’ compensation, civil lawsuit damage awards, municipal collective bargaining and public works contracting, as well as a property tax freeze.

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