News Local/State

Rauner’s Spending Freeze Raises Questions

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.

Governor Bruce Rauner, speaking as Governor-elect at a December, 2014 luncheon in Springfield. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

It’s not yet clear how Governor Rauner’s executive order freezing all non-essential state spending will affect operations at state universities. But University of Illinois spokesman Tom Hardy says they’ll be taking a close look at the directive.

“We like to think that most everything we do has an essential quality to it", said Hard. "But we’re going to work with the governor’s office and our budget people here to get some clarity around the identification of essential versus non-essential spending.”

The director of the U of I's Institute of Government and Public Affairs says he's not sure how the technical aspects of Rauner's order will play out. But he says Rauner's decision to issue the order on his first day as governor was an important act of political theater, in his quest to fix Illinois government's finances.

"Gov. Rauner has set an agenda to dramatically change our budgeting processes and our budgeting outcomes", said Mooney. "And that’s very, very difficult to do. So he’s got to be saying a lot of things, doing symbolic acts, and this is one of them." 

Rauner’s three-page order covers all executive branch agencies, including the boards of state universities.

It halts out-of-state travel and freezes new, renewed or amended state contracts and grants for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Exceptions are made for contracts under $50,000, and those contracts considered essential, legally mandated or of an emergency nature.