In Op-ed insists on votes for term limits, pension reform before budget can be passed
Reuters + Staff Reports
Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday vetoed 19 budget bills that he said would create a nearly $4 billion deficit for the financially troubled state.
Rauner, a Republican who has been in an ongoing budget battle with the state’s Democratic majority legislature, said in a statement the veto is to “protect Illinois taxpayers from an unbalanced and therefore unconstitutional budget.”
Critics have hit back saying Rauner’s own proposed budget has a $3.3 billion gap making his unconstitutional claims untenable.
Rauner on Wednesday signed into law school funding legislation, marking the first fiscal 2016 budget bill passed by Democratic lawmakers to be enacted.
In total, Democrats had passed a $36.3 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins in a week.
Rauner wants lawmakers to adopt his so-called “Turnaround Agenda.”
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said that he would take time to discuss next steps with other legislators.
“It appears that the governor would rather move the state toward a shutdown rather than reasonable compromises that protect the middle class with a balanced approach to budgeting,” said Cullerton, a Democrat, in a statement.
Democrats had hoped Rauner would exercise his line item veto power to pass key portions of the budget.
But Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, says a full veto means going back to square one: “To veto outright means we really are starting from ground zero.”
“In vetoing this budget, Gov. Bruce Rauner has turned his back on hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Illinoisans who, while they played no role in creating the budget deficits now facing our state, are nevertheless the ones being asked to now sacrifice the most,” said SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher.
“The real immediate needs of seniors, people with disabilities, retired veterans, low-income children and working parents are about to go unmet but instead Gov. Rauner is blaming others for the present crisis of his creation.
“What Gov. Rauner did today was NOT the act of leadership which he proclaims but an irresponsible blow that will most harm the least fortunate among us.”
SEIU represents 57,000 workers in Illinois set to be impacted by the budge impasse.
In an Op-ed on the Chicago Tribune website Thursday afternoon, Rauner defended his veto saying, “The road back to fiscal sanity starts today with my veto of a budget that is nearly $4 billion out of balance and includes no reform. We cannot accept the status quo of throwing more taxpayer money into a broke and broken system.”
He called pension reform a “prerequisite” to passing an operating budget for the state, saying, “I’m committed to it, and I ask for the legislative leaders to be equally committed.”
The governor laid out a series of other legislative proposals he said must be agreed upon prior to a budget being put in place.
The 2016 fiscal year begins July 1.