- Published: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 02:20 PM
Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement in reaction to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget address to the General Assembly this afternoon:
“Yesterday, I expressed my hope that Gov. Rauner would introduce a balanced budget in today's address. In fact, he proposed two budgetary paths.
“The first path would allow him to unilaterally control spending and policy decisions, representing an abdication of the General Assembly's responsibility and a breakdown in our system of representative government. It may constitute a balanced budget, but nobody thinks it's the best way of handling things.
“The second path requires negotiation and compromise to produce an agreed-upon package of new revenues, spending changes and structural reforms. Clearly, everyone would prefer that we go down this path. However, his comments raise two crucial questions.
“First of all, while I agree that we must all compromise to reach an agreement, it is a shame that today's address did not include Gov. Rauner's preferred mix of revenues and spending cuts. Our system expects a governor make such a proposal, which then becomes a useful starting point for negotiations.
“Secondly, Gov. Rauner spoke extensively about our state's real structural problems and demanded that structural reforms be a part of the solution. I agree. However, he continues to prioritize anti-worker reforms that would push down wages and harm the middle class. In fact, he continues to imply that states can only thrive economically if they embrace right-wing, anti-union policies. Of course, this assertion is utterly false.
“As we seek to enact the structural reforms that our state needs, we must be open to all points of view and all ideas, including Democratic ideas such as repealing our bizarre constitutional provision that mandates a flat income tax. I am confident that if Gov. Rauner is willing to have a truly open negotiation on the question of revenues, spending and reform, then we can come together in the spirit of compromise and move forward.
“I hope he is willing to engage in that fair process, and I hope it happens quickly. Our state is being grievously harmed by the current budget situation, and neither the vulnerable people who rely on our human services, nor the students who attend our institutions of higher education, nor the good people who provide those services should be forced to accept any more of this.”