Rauner proposes ambitious budget plan

Ivan Schwartz
February 16, 2018

Ken Idstein has a clear of vision of what he wants to see Gov. Bruce Rauner propose in his upcoming state budget address.

Rauner's budget address had Democratic House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie of Chicago wondering whether IL may face another long budget stalemate.

"The goal is that if local school districts or universities have to pay some of those costs, then they'll keep that in consideration when budgeting", Syverson said.

The overall pension revamp would save $1 billion a year, Rauner said.

By doing this, Rauner says the state will give schools and local governments the tools they need to offset the costs.

"All I can say is in listening to a public radio interview with (John Cullerton, the president of the senate), you have senator Cullerton using terms such as deceptive, and using a term such as deceptive in referring to the governor's budget address and proposed budget; that's not exactly a promising sign of good times ahead", Wandling said.

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She noted the governor proposed giving schools $350 million more in the next fiscal year, which she said could help offset the increased pension costs.

The General Assembly has until May 31 to pass a balanced budget with a majority vote. Rauner estimates these cost shifts could save state government $696 million in the next fiscal year.

Rauner says reforms must begin with pensions and employee group health expenses.

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State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said with increased education funding being budgeted, school districts shouldn't feel any significant harm this year.

State Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley said he expects the next four years will be a good, but hard period of adjustment for school districts and universities as they assume their own pension liability. "The people of IL are taxed out".

"This is the closest the Rauner administration has ever come to a real, balanced budget, which I appreciate", she said.

The plan also is likely to face a court challenge as past proposals have because the state constitution prohibits promised pensions from being "diminished or impaired".

Because Chicago Public Schools have traditionally paid their own pensions, the bill added normal pension costs into each district's financial needs.

Other departments with increased budgets include Children and Family Services, Healthcare and Family Services and the Illinois State Police.

Democrats say they did support the idea, but not with the reductions in union rights Rauner says should be part of the plan. Andy Manar, said the shift would reverse the entire reason for the funding-formula changes - more equity in how the state pays for education.

The plan also authorizes $100 million in new funding for deferred maintenance and repairs at state colleges and universities and $500 million for the Discovery Partners Institute at the University of IL.

Last year, Democrats and a smattering of Republicans passed a budget over Rauner's objections after two years without one.

Other reports by GizPress

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