News Local/State

Rauner Vetoes IL Budget, Cites $4 Billion Deficit

Governor Bruce Rauner before his budget address Wednesday.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner enters the Illinois House chamber last Feb. 18th, to deliver his budget address. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed the bulk of the Illinois budget that the Democratic-controlled Legislature sent him.  

Rauner announced Thursday that he vetoed 19 budget bills that legislative Democrats acknowledge add up to a spending plan that is as much as $4 billion short of revenue.  

The bill numbers are: HB 4146, HB 4147, HB 4148, HB 4151, HB 4153, HB 4154, HB 4158, HB 4159, HB 4160, HB 4165, SB 2029, SB 2030, SB 2031, SB 2032, SB 2033, SB 2034, SB 2035, SB 2036 and SB 2037.

Rauner's message on the vetoes says that "for too long, the state of Illinois has made spending promises that exceed available revenues (and) relied on accounting gimmicks.''  

An editorial published Thursday Chicago Tribune he says he'll limit his call for a property tax freeze to two years, and he'll agree to giving Chicago and other cities a reprieve from pension payments.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says that's proof Rauner has extended an olive branch.

"I think the biggest impediment right now is the Democrats have proven over and over again they don't understand the new dynamic in Springfield and they have been unwilling to compromise on absolutely anything," he said.

Democrats say otherwise.

In a statement, Senate President John Cullerton's office says "it appears that the Governor would rather move the state toward a shutdown --- rather than reasonable compromises." 

House Speaker Michael Madigan says the governor "missed an opportunity” to avoid disrupting the lives of middle class families.

The first-term governor has insisted that Democrats adopt his proposed changes to the business and political climates before he'll work with Democrats on the budget.  

Democrats say he should settle the budget first. They acknowledge they sent him an unbalanced budget but want a tax increase along with some spending cuts to come up with necessary revenue.

Meanwhile, a rally on Chicago's West Side Thursday organized by African-American lawmakers shed light on how far things are apart between Rauner and legislative leaders. 

"I just learned a moment ago that he vetoed the full budget," said Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago.)  "You can’t just bring your whole campaign agenda in year one and pit it against the budget and say, ‘Either you give me what I want or not.’ The campaign is over. People are hurting. It’s time to govern."

Lightford then broke the news to a group made up of community groups addressing state funding of autism programs, energy assistance for the poor, and mental health services.

That’s when she got more personal in her comments - referring to Rauner’s personal wealth - as the crowd looked for somewhere to direct this anger.

"We’re going to have to march on this governor like nothing before," Lighford said.  "And I think we need the elders in this room to show us how to do it. You did it in the ‘50s, you did it in the ‘60s, we need you to do it in 2015. We need help today."