- Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2017 05:08 PM
“Gov. Bruce Rauner just finished his annual State of the State address, heralding bipartisanship and calling on our moral obligation to work together on behalf of the people of Illinois. Those are powerful words. Unfortunately, the last two years have shown us that they are just words to him.
“On the governor’s watch, Illinois has undergone a crisis unmatched in our nation’s history. Years without a real budget have taken a terrible toll on our state. Without a real budget our economy has weakened, and our citizens have less opportunity. In fact, the only thing that has increased is the number of people leaving Illinois.
“Bruce Rauner campaigned on the promise to fix Illinois, but he's done the exact opposite. Instead, by refusing to back down from his polarizing political agenda, Gov. Rauner has harmed the very people he was sent to represent.
“I invite the governor to put aside the rhetoric and join me in discussing the issues that will make a difference for all Illinoisans. We must begin by balancing our budget with a fair tax system that gives a break to the middle class while asking billionaires to pay their fair share.
“If we do this right, then next year Gov. Rauner will be able to give a state of the state address that, rather than dodging the hard truths and evading responsibility, can proudly explain that our state is strong, prosperous and improving.”
Illinois has not had a full annual budget since June of 2015. Some consequences of the impasse in 2016 included:
- Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, the state’s largest social service provider, announced mass program closures and layoffs because of the stalemate.
- 55,000 fewer children of low-income working parents were able to take advantage of the state’s Child Care Assistance Program because Rauner slashed funding for the program.
- More than $1.1 billion was cut from higher education funding for state universities and community colleges – a more than 70 percent reduction in state support.
- State payments to K-12 schools for transportation, special education and free and reduced-price lunches were delayed by months, causing a ripple effect for staff and families in districts across the state.
- Illinois’ bill backlog climbed to $11 billion.
Pictured above: Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) talks about Wednesday's state of the state address with Jak Tichenor, host of WSIU-TV’s “Illinois Lawmakers,” during a live broadcast from the House chamber.