I don’t usually quote at great length statements from political candidates about pending big issues. The statements are mostly spin, mixed with half-truths and shots at their opponents.
But given its importance, I’m going to make an exception about the state budget and tax hike package, which needs only a veto override vote in the House to become law. House Speaker Michael Madigan has scheduled that vote for tomorrow.
So, here are the statements everyone has put out. I have done a little judicious trimming.
Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican:
“The package of legislation fails to address Illinois’ fiscal and economic crisis—and, in fact, makes it worse in the long run. It does not balance the budget. It does not make nearly sufficient spending reductions, does not pay down our debt and holds schools hostage to force a Chicago bailout.
“This budget package does not provide property tax relief to struggling families and employers. It does not provide regulatory relief to businesses to create jobs and grow the economy. It does not include real term limits on state elected officials to fix our broken political system. Even with the Madigan permanent 32% income tax increase, this budget remains $2 billion out of balance for fiscal year 2018. This budget will require even more tax hikes to balance the budget and pay down the bill backlog. This budget puts Illinois on track for major future tax increases and will lead us to become the highest-taxed state in America in the coming years.
“Moreover, this budget package holds K-12 school funding across Illinois hostage to force a bailout of Chicago Public Schools. Hidden in this budget are terms that withhold school funding unless the school funding formula is rewritten to shift money from suburban and downstate school districts to CPS. Budgets in Illinois will not be balanced or stay balanced unless our economy grows faster than our government spending. We have been ignoring that truth for 35 years. This budget package includes no changes to create jobs and grow our economy. It will push more families and businesses out of our state.”
And the Democrats:
State Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston:
“This budget has support from Democrats and Republicans. It’s far from perfect, but it will open schools in the fall, fund vital social services, pay public sector employees and put our state within the realm of financial solvency. Gov. Rauner has committed to veto it.
“Rauner’s obstructionism is nothing new to Senate Democrats, or to the people of Illinois. What is new, however, is that he is losing control of his own party. In response to pressure from their constituents, many of my Republican colleagues, including members of both houses, voted in favor of the budget and in defiance of Rauner. This isn’t about political parties or ideological commitments; it’s about doing what is necessary to save our state—and we will be prepared when it becomes necessary to override the governor’s veto.”
“Nothing is more important than having a budget that reflects the values of our state to finally provide the fiscal stability and reliability Illinois desperately needs. We need a balanced budget that is honest, fair and compassionate, and it should have been Gov. Rauner’s top priority to bring us a budget long before today.
“(Rauner) was given the chance today to do right by the people of our state, to protect our students and universities, our businesses and our economy, by passing a budget. Instead, he chose to play politics. This budget agreement isn’t perfect, but it begins putting the state on a more stable financial path. That said, it asks more of our workers and families, who already give the most, to make even greater sacrifices to fix our budget mess. We must ask more from the wealthy and from our political leaders. We still need radical change in Springfield, but more than anything, we need a budget.”
Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th:
“Republicans and Democrats in both houses came together this week to pass a responsible budget that protects middle-class families and finally puts our state on a steady fiscal path. With his veto, the governor made very clear that he doesn’t care about the future of our state and the hard-working families that make it great.
“Instead, he is holding our future hostage to achieve two selfish and dangerous goals: to destroy organized labor and the fundamental protections they have won for workers, and to use Chicago schools as a scapegoat now that he’s done paying to clout his own child into the public school of his choice. Today’s actions make it clear that only one person stands between a bankrupt state and a bright future. It’s time for Bruce Rauner to go.”
“For nearly three years, Bruce Rauner has driven our state into crisis and inflicted pain on tens of thousands of Illinoisans. Now, as Republicans and Democrats come together to declare enough is enough and finally pass a budget, for Bruce Rauner, not even the threat of a complete meltdown can get him to do his job.
“Bruce Rauner has no intention of letting this crisis end. As he has for 734 days, Rauner will continue using schoolchildren, college students, seniors and people with disabilities as pawns in his game to drive this state to bankruptcy and junk status. Rauner has a one-track mind with a single goal of ramming through a special-interest agenda that leaves most Illinoisans behind.”
3:55 p.m. update:
Rauner held forth with reporters for the first time in several days, and he’s—pardon the pun—not budg(et)ing an inch.
“They wanted a crisis to force a tax hike,” Rauner declared, making it clear he was mostly referring to Madigan “and his subordinates.”
Rauner continued, “That was their goal from day one. . . .(But) people tell me, ‘Don’t give in. The system’s broken.’ “
All a tax hike will do is continue “failure. We need fundamental change.”
Rauner went into full populist mode when asked whether failure to act now wouldn’t result in a damaging downgrade of state debt to junk status.
“What we need to do is what’s right for the people of Illinois,” Rauner said. “Don’t listen to Wall Street. Don’t listen to politicians who want power.”
Interesting comments from a guy who made his fortune as a major-league venture capitalist, dealing regularly with, um, Wall Street and its financiers.