News Local/State

Treasurer Urges Rauner To Go To NY With Budget-Plan Commitment

Democratic candidate for state treasurer Mike Frerichs talks to reporters on election night

In this file photo, Michael Frerichs waits for results in his bid for state treasurer. Frerichs spoke in Chicago Monday asking the governor to speak directly to bond rating agencies to help avoid "junk" status. Keenan Chan/Illinois Public Media

The Illinois state treasurer is calling on Governor Bruce Rauner to do more to avoid Illinois being downgraded to “junk-bond" status.

Although Illinois' two-year budget stalemate ended last week with a bipartisan tax increase, the state isn’t yet out of danger from credit-rating agencies.

Moody’s in particular warned that the toxic political atmosphere leaves the state vulnerable.

Treasurer Mike Frerichs, a Democrat, says there are a few things Gov. Rauner should do to mitigate those risks, starting with a trip to New York.

“Speak directly with the three rating agencies, and convince them that he embraces the decisions of the legislature and will implement a budget agreement," Frerichs said.

That seems unlikely. Earlier Monday, Rauner announced he was replacing his chief of staff with a top official from the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative advocacy organization that’s been a vocal opponent of the budget deal.

Frerichs says Rauner’s criticism of the bipartisan budget deal — along with criticism from the Illinois Republican Party — are red flags.

“This signals the possibility that the governor will not implement the budget package, thereby inviting a downgrade to junk status," Frerichs said.

A spokeswoman for the governor did not directly respond to the treasurer, but says the budget deal "will not solve the problems created by decades of unbalanced budgets.”

She says Rauner remains focused on improving the state’s economy.