Gov. Rauner Tours Downstate to Tout His Budget Plan

Governor Rauner toured the state Wednesday to rip the democratic leadership for not approving a balanced budget before Tuesday night's deadline for the spring session.

During a stop at the Vienna Correctional Center, the governor put the bullseye directly on the back of House Speaker Mike Madigan. Rauner says under Madigan's control, the state of Illinois is financially mismanaged like no other state in the country, which is preventing Illinois from attracting new business.

Credit Brad Palmer, WSIU Radio

"Your average business looks at this and says, 'Gosh, if I want to build a half-billion dollar manufacturing plant in southern Illinois, would I go into a state that is financially broke, always in debt and deficit, always raising taxes, always regulating businesses, making me uncompetitive? Or would I go to Indiana? Or would I go to Tennessee or Texas where it's much more pro-business?'"
 
Dale Fowler is the mayor of Harrisburg, and candidate for state senate in the 59th district. He says business owners all over southern Illinois are telling him they are considering leaving the state, in large part, due to high worker's compensation rates.
 
"I have a friend that  owns a company who says he can just move over to western Kentucky, and build his warehouse in western Kentucky, and save over $250,000 a year, just on worker's compensation savings alone."
 
Fowler says this is also causing families to leave Illinois and take their spending power with them.

Rauner's using the tour to build public support for a temporary budget that would spare him from presiding over potential debacles...like schools not opening in the fall or a prison uprising.
During a stop at the Vienna prison, Rauner said Democrats in the House and Senate were competing to see who could send more money to "bail out Chicago."
 
"With your tax dollars from southern Illinois and central Illinois ...The taxes should go into our communities, not into the Chicago political machine."
 
Republican Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington is on the tour with Rauner.
 
"Us downstaters need to stick together ... so that we don't enable Mike Madigan to bail out Chicago."
 
The General Assembly's top Democrats want the state to put millions more into Chicago Public Schools. But they say it's only fair: the state picks up the pension tab for every other district.

Rauner says his stop-gap proposal would provide full funding for K through 12 education, with added protections.
 
"We'll put in a hold harmless, so everybody gets at least the same, and many districts get more. That's the right answer and we're insisting on that. We also want to put more money into early childhood education."
 

Credit Brad Palmer, WSIU Radio

Vienna Schools Superintendent Joshua Stafford says the state's lack of support for education since 2009 has cost his district about three million dollars. He says this has forced him to cut staff and put a strain on those who remain.
 
"We have class sizes for health and math and English, all of our core subjects, that are in excess of 35 kids per class. That's not good for kids, that unacceptable. We've had to reduce the number of sports that we offer. We've had to reduce extracurricular activities we offer. Our staff has taken a pay freeze."
 
Stafford says he supports Governor Rauner's stop-gap proposal for education. He says it would allow his district to operate for the entire 2016-17 academic year.

Illinois Department of Corrections Director John Baldwin said Illinois also needs a balanced budget that is fair to his workers and vendors.
 
"This is really about staff safety, offender safety and outcomes. We can improve our outcomes given the chance. We need that chance."
 
Governor Rauner said while he believes lawmakers can approve his temporary budget for education and human services right away, he will still work on what he calls the "grand compromise."
 
"We're going to work everyday to try to get grand compromise. Because we've got to grow our economy. We've got to get more jobs everywhere in the state. More jobs, higher family incomes and we've got to protect our property taxpayers from the brutally high property taxes."
 
Rauner says that's what his turnaround reform agenda is all about. He says many democrats support the plan in private, but House Speaker Mike Madigan is fighting it.