Lawmakers are trying to rush a budget at the end of special session, so House Democrats finally put forth a plan, which includes a property tax freeze. But the plan offers no real relief for struggling taxpayers. On this edition of Illinois Rising, Dan Proft and Pat Hughes break this down with WirePoints.com's Mark Glennon, and discuss what real property tax relief should look like. They also discuss the soon-to-be insolvent Chicago police pension, and waste throughout Chicago Public Schools, as well as financial recklessness at the county level.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) joined Dan & Amy to discuss what the lack of a balanced state budget means for Illinois. How did we run up a quarter of a trillion dollars in debt? How do we have the worst funded pension systems in the nation? And what did the General Assembly pass with regard to school funding?
“It’s a crisis of significant proportions.”
Governor Bruce Rauner joined Dan and Amy this morning. Listen to the exclusive interview now.
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Dan Proft: Dan and Amy, so, fiscal year and June 30th. The new fiscal year starts July 1st, and Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says she will not have authority to write checks or state bills, or things like funding schools, without a stop gap budget at minimum, and also the governor’s office adjusted transportation projects that are ongoing could be stalled if a stop gap budget is not passed. Those are some of the implications. For more on the implications, we’re now happy to be joined by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. Governor Rauner, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Bruce Rauner: Good morning, Dan. Good morning, Amy, how are you doing today? Dan Proft: Good, thank you for being with us. So here’s the question: the way the media has framed this, really, for the last month, is this is a game of brinkmanship between you and Chicago democrat legislative leaders. Frame it for us in terms of what it actually is, the substance of the impasse between you and the General Assembly. Bruce Rauner: Yeah, here’s the bottom line, Dan. The General Assembly left Springfield at the end of May, at the end of the spring session, without passing any budget whatsoever. Last year they passed an out of balance budget by 5 billion dollars. This year they didn’t pass any budget at all, and they also refused to vote on any reforms to improve our economy, to improve protections for taxpayers, to change our political system through term limits and fair maps. They refuse to do any productive work like that. At this point, we have no budget. The state government is on the verge of significant crisis, because the central services, social services, healthcare services, public safety services, and as well as basic fundamental services, like building roads and maintaining bridges are on the verge of ceasing to occur. It’s a crisis of significant proportions. We, to get through this crisis, have introduced two pieces of legislation, and asked the general assembly to vote on them. One, we said our schools deserve to open on time with full funding, full foundation level that the state should put into the schools right now. And we’ve introduced a bill to do that. The money exists inside the state government, it is in our education funds. We’ve asked the general assembly to pass that education school funding bill right now. The other bill introduced is a stop gap budget. It doesn’t solve our long term challenges, of long term balanced budgets, it doesn’t get reforms done, but at a minimum it allows us to let our government function, provide essential public safety services, human services, healthcare services, that our people of Illinois depend on every day from our government. It’s a budget that would get us through next January, and the good news is the money is there, in our special human services accountants and operating counts. The cash is there, but we can’t spend it unless it’s appropriated by the general assembly. So we’ve asked the general assembly, “Please come back to Springfield, pass these two budgets; one for schools, to make sure they open with full funding, the other is to pass the stop gap budget, so we can through this crisis and get to January”. My worry is the general assembly is not interested in these solutions. What they’re trying to pressure is a large tax hike after the general election in November. I believe what they’d like to do is force a huge tax hike without having to do any reforms, and they want to wait until after the general elections so they’re not held responsible for that. As well, President Cullerton came up publicly a number of weeks back at the City Club in Chicago and said he personally would not like to see the schools get open or get funded unless Chicago gets significantly more money under some new schools funding formula that they’d like to propose. Let me be clear, that is patently unfair, to tax payers in the suburbs, to tax payers downstate, to bail out the city of Chicago. Chicago public schools are important; I care deeply about the students there. They deserve state support. But that system has been financially mismanaged for years and years, and it is unfair to try to force taxpayers in the suburbs and downstate to bail out the financial mismanagement for Chicago. Dan Proft: And the holdup funding for the rest of the schools. Bruce Rauner: No, that’s right. They’re trying to hold the rest of the schools hostage, say you can’t get any state money at all, you can’t open at all, unless you bail out Chicago’s financial mismanagement. That is wrong, and we’ve got to stand up against that. \ Amy Jacobson: So, if Madigan and Cullerton don’t move and they don’t tell their people to move on the education bill, the school’s not going to start on time in the Fall? Bruce Rauner: Well, some schools will be able to open, because they’ve got the financial reserves, some schools around the state, and we’re trying to study which ones are financially able to open, but many school districts don’t have sufficient financial reserves to open without the state support that comes in from Springfield. I believe that the supermajority in the general assembly is trying to holdup schools opening to try to force a significant bailout for Chicago public schools’ financial mismanagement, and that’s not fair. Dan Proft: And so, you need help with this, so we need people to engage and contact our legislators? Bruce Rauner: That’s exactly right. I’m travelling around the state right now, making sure everybody’s aware of what’s going on and what the general assembly is failing to do and what they’re angling to try to change for a bailout for Chicago. We’re asking people to please contact their legislator, their state senator, their state representative, especially those who are in the supermajority, who work underneath Speaker Madigan, and say, “Please, no games, no holding hostages over schools. Please pass the two bills that have been introduced.” One so that our schools are fully funded at the full foundation level and can open on time in August; the other bill is a stop gap budget; it gets us through January with funding that is; the cash is available in the accounts in the government, that funds our human services, our essential government services, to get us through this crisis. Amy Jacobson: All a political game for the democrats. Dan Proft: Well… they’re making it a political game, it seems. Governor Bruce Rauner, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Bruce Rauner: Thank you so much, Dan, Amy, have a good day! Take care!