What Bruce Rauner has to say about the status of Illinois’ budget

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Gov. Bruce Rauner says Illinois cannot get a handle on spending until lawmakers take on “automatic spending categories” such as pensions and Medicaid.

The Republican gave his third budget address Wednesday, February 15, 2017 and called for a “hard cap” on spending to force frugality.

Democrats in the Illinois Legislature erupted in laughter at Rauner’s statements that he proposed a balanced budget in 2015 and that the impasse isn’t about “assigning blame.”

Rauner proposed a budget in 2015 that went nowhere in the Legislature.

Rauner says it was balanced. But Democrats argue it relied on billions in gimmicks, including counting on savings from items such as pension reform which would not have been immediately realized even if it survived a court challenge.

He also pointed out that more than 60 percent of the state’s general revenue is “locked up.” It is spoken for in contributions to state-employee pensions, Medicaid, health care for low-income residents and others.

The state’s pension programs are $130 billion out of whack. Lawmakers have attempted for years to reduce pension benefits. But courts have ruled against the plans.