Metro-East News

Area legislators weigh in on Gov. Rauner’s budget address

After Governor Bruce Rauner’s third budget address in front of the General Assembly, metro-east legislators offered their takes on his remarks and the potential of a grand bargain being negotiated in the state senate.

State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said he is not fan of the grand bargain.

“I object to the way it started and being sold,” McCarter said. “It’s asking for taxpayers to pay for the sins of the legislature in the past.”

McCarter said he wants a smaller state government, and he is working on a proposal that would cut $5 billion to $7 billion from the state budget.

He said people leave the state “because of failed strategy of taxing people more and not reducing our spending.”

Among the cuts McCarter said he would include are shifting future pension costs for kindergarten through 12th grade teachers to local school districts and reducing the local government distributive fund, both in exchange for state mandate relief.

He said he also would make changes to human services to make sure people qualified to be on Medicaid.

State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, released a statement following the budget address:

“I agree with Governor Rauner when he said we must ‘think anew and act anew.’ It’s time to look forward instead of what’s behind us. We have an opportunity today to fix our broken state by growing our economy, paying down our debt and passing a balanced budget. We must work together. If so, we can move Illinois forward.”

State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, said Rauner isn’t able to “compromise and negotiate a responsible budget.”

“Personal political agendas have put our state on the wrong course, and it’s time to change direction,” Hoffman said. “We need to set aside partisan talking points, and instead focus on passing a budget that prioritizes our residents and will begin to repair the immense damage that has occurred over the past couple of years. While I do advocate for compromise, it can not come at the expense of working families. Our current governor has consistently advocated for policies that would be detrimental to labor and would drive down wages for working families — all to increase the bottom line for millionaire executives.

“Even though I agree with the governor that there is work that we can do to improve the economic climate in Illinois, we need to do it by strengthening and lifting up the middle-class, not destroying it,” Hoffman added.

State Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, said the policies proposed by Rauner would be damaging to the state.

“For the third year in a row, the governor has proposed instituting policies that would cause detrimental damage to the state,” Greenwood said. “I came to Springfield to strengthen the power of the working class, which we can do by increasing the minimum wage, requiring people who make over $1 million to pay a small surcharge to increase funding for schools and helping small businesses compete with large corporations.”

“The governor’s lack of willingness to compromise on the budget has created $5.5 billion in new debt, which has put the lives of the state’s most vulnerable citizens at risk. His allegiance to billionaires instead of the working class has forced nearly 70,000 children out of a program that would provide them care while their parents are working,” she added.

State Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, called on Rauner to participate in the negotiations on a budget.

“I want to work cooperatively with the governor on a budget, and I have demonstrated that I am willing to do so. I’ve supported several of the issues he has asked to be addressed, including voting more than 15 times to freeze property taxes and passing reforms on the worker’s compensation system in Illinois,” Costello said. “We must focus on creating a business climate that allows small businesses to succeed, and with smart reforms and cutting government red tape, we can bring more jobs back to Southern Illinois.”

Costello said he would support the EDGE tax credit, which is an incentive for businesses to create and maintain jobs in the state.

“The middle-class continues to be the backbone of the economy, and it is important that we implement policies that will benefit the hard-working families in Southern Illinois,” Costello said. “I also want to hold companies accountable by outlawing any future tax incentives for any businesses that outsources American jobs overseas.”