Metro-East News

‘Fiscal sanity’: Rauner vetoes Illinois budget, cites $4 billion deficit

From staff and wire reports

Illinois Capitol building
Illinois Capitol building

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the bulk of the Illinois budget Thursday that the Democratic-controlled Legislature sent him, increasing the likelihood that some state services could be disrupted when the fiscal year begins next week.

The new governor, in constant battle with powerful lawmakers for six weeks, announced he had vetoed 19 budget bills because even Democrats acknowledge they fall short on revenue by $3 billion to $4 billion.

“For too long, the state of Illinois has made spending promises that exceed available revenues, relied on accounting gimmicks to make budgets appear balanced, used borrowing and cost deferral strategies to push costs into the future, and delayed payments to vendors,” Rauner said in his veto message.

Rauner says he’s vetoed budget bills lawmakers sent him in order to start the road back to “fiscal sanity.”

Legislative Democrats backed a spending plan that’s as much as $4 billion short on revenue. But the Republican governor vetoed 19 bills Thursday. Both sides have previously they’re interested in a compromise and legislators have been working in overtime sessions in Springfield.

Rauner explained his vetoes further in a Chicago Tribune op-ed published online Thursday.

He says signing the budget would be kicking the can down the road and he wants there to be reforms, including term limits and redistricting.

Rauner says he’s also interested in a pension overhaul this year that takes elements of a plan backed by Senate President John Cullerton and his own administration.

Rep. Dwight Kay, a Glen Carbon Republican, said Rauner had no choice but to veto the Democrats’ budget.

“I support the governor’s veto because the budget spent $4 billion our state will not have in the bank account next fiscal year,” Kay said.

With a June 30 deadline for approving a fiscal year 2016 budget, Rauner continues to insist on “structural” changes to the business and political climates in Illinois before dealing with the opposing party on spending. Democrats want a tax increase, along with strategic spending cuts, in order to continue what they call vital state services.

The mass veto action came just a day after the governor signed into law spending for pre-school, elementary and secondary education, saying he wanted to make sure the schools opened on time. It increases school funding by $269 million.

That gave some Democrats hope that Rauner would use some of his gubernatorial powers to excise certain lines of spending. The No. 2 House Democrat, Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie of Chicago, said she hoped Rauner might sign the deal and choose not to spend money in disputed areas.

The new fiscal year starts July 1.

“But to veto outright means we really are starting from ground zero,” Currie said.

Senate President John Cullerton’s spokeswoman says it appears Rauner would rather move toward a shutdown than compromise.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says Rauner missed an opportunity to avoid “disrupting the lives” of middle class families over non-budget issues

The House will meet Tuesday to take testimony on the impact of having no budget by the start of the fiscal year.