Rauner’s Reckless Agenda Divides Illinois, Undermines Middle Class

By Lou Lang

During the last 18-months, Governor Bruce Rauner’s relentless and reckless insistence on passing his personal, political agenda that aims to lower the wages and standard of living of middle-class families has been the chief obstacle to the adoption of a comprehensive state budget.

That’s why the Illinois General Assembly was unable to adopt either a fiscal year 2016 budget or fiscal year 2017 budget on May 31, 2016.

Bi-partisan progress has been made on stopgap budget bills with Governor Rauner over the past year when he temporarily set aside his personal agenda that is designed to undermine the hard-earned collective bargaining rights of organized labor.

Since March 2015, the Governor has worked with the legislature to pass six, stopgap budget measures. Not one of these budget plans was dependent on passage of his Turnaround Agenda that hurts middle-class families. Clearly, progress on the state budget can be made when the governor sets aside his stubborn personal agenda designed to attack the middle class and lower wages for working men and women.

But Illinois now faces its 11th month without a comprehensive state budget, and Governor Rauner’s refusal to make the budget his top priority has led to dreadful consequences for the elderly who rely on in-home care, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, college students and universities, disabled persons, and providers of critical medical care.

Despite Governor Rauner’s utter failure on Tuesday to persuade the legislature to adopt a budget shaped in his own image for the second-year in a row, the Governor, rather than stay in Springfield to negotiate with Democratic legislative leaders, launched on Wednesday, June 1, a campaign-like whistle-stop tour to bash Democrats for his own personal failure to demonstrate the kind of leadership necessary to achieve a legislative compromise.

That’s why he is a failed Governor.

Governor Rauner’s zealot-like pursuit of a personal political agenda that is designed to hurt the middle class and regular Illinoisans is a clear indication he has no interest in passing and implementing comprehensive, full-year budgets that preserve the vital health care and human services relied upon by senior citizens, abused and neglected children, victims of domestic violence, pre-school school children of Illinois.”

We continue to hear from the Governor and his allies that they desire to work together with Democrats. But Governor Rauner’s hyper-negative rhetoric and GOP media stunts create an enormous obstacle to productive negotiations and compromise. The governor’s vitriol creates divisions between Chicago, the suburbs, and Downstate, between business and labor, and Democrats and Republicans. This Governor has failed to unify the state. He has succeeded only in dividing the state.

During his 2014 campaign, Governor Rauner said that crisis creates opportunity and leverage, and that government may have to be shut down for a while. That is the only campaign promise that he has kept. He has destroyed the safety net for those most in need and for critical state services, including services for women who need breast cancer screenings, victims of child abuse, and victims of sexual assault.

House and Senate Democrats will continue to work toward compromise with the governor where possible in order to achieve a fair and equitable budget agreement that aims to protect the interests of Illinois most vulnerable families and seeks to grow the state’s economy. But Democrats will remain opposed to any reckless attempts that attack the financial security, wages and standard of living of middle-class families.

On this point, we will never compromise.

Never.

Meanwhile, Democrats will remain in continuous session in Springfield until the job is done.

Lou Lang (D-Skokie) is the Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader