Manar030072017Gov. Bruce Rauner owes Illinois taxpayers a blunt, direct explanation of the cuts he intends to make to balance his budget, which a new financial report shows is now nearly $5 billion out of balance.

“Every day the governor writes checks that anyone with a rudimentary understanding of accounting knows the state of Illinois can’t cash, and he desperately wants to blame the legislature for his overdrafts,” said Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat.

The latest analysis from the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accounting, released this week, suggests the state’s revenues are $329 million lower than the governor’s budget estimate, pushing his proposal into the red by nearly $5 billion.

The governor’s nearly $5 billion imbalance exists even if he is successful in winning approval for several savings schemes, such as selling the state’s Thompson Center office complex in Chicago and wringing savings out of changes to state purchasing. However, he needs changes to state law to achieve those savings. As it stands now, with no changes to law, the governor’s proposed budget is more than $7.5 billion out of balance, according to the latest numbers.

Rauner last week derailed the Senate’s comprehensive bipartisan budget plan, which was widely seen as key to breaking Illinois’ two-year budget stalemate.

That leaves only the governor’s severely unbalanced budget proposal on the table – a proposal that, notably, on page 30 relied on the success of the grand bargain to be fiscally sound.

Yet the governor’s administration is stonewalling Senate committees this week as they attempt to determine what cuts the governor and his agency directors are advocating in light of last week’s turn of events.

Manar noted that this is the third year Rauner has asked the Legislature for emergency powers to unilaterally cut whatever he needs to balance spending; therefore, one would assume he and his administration would be prepared to outline their priorities and identify specific cuts they are prepared to make.

“Gov. Rauner created this budget crisis by refusing to be realistic and reasonable about what he could accomplish,” Manar said. “The least he can do now is to accept responsibility for his own grossly unbalanced budget proposal and start talking specifics with the people of Illinois so they can prepare for what’s coming.”

On Wednesday, area mayors, including Carlinville Mayor Deanna Demuzio, testified before the Senate Local Government Committee about the effects of the state budget stalemate on the ability of municipalities to provide services to local taxpayers and how they’re turning to such measures as service cuts and local tax hikes to make up the difference.

And on Tuesday, members of the Senate’s Education Committee learned from state education officials that Illinois school districts are waiting on $1.15 billion in backlogged payments for early childhood education, bilingual education and career technical education because of Rauner’s budget showdown with lawmakers.

Those same state education officials refused to identify for senators any budget cuts they intend to make, saying they were instructed not to cooperate with the committee.

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Springfield Office:
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