The Latest: Budget numbers show deficit of up to $7 billion | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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The Latest: Budget numbers show deficit of up to $7 billion

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2017, file photo, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner delivers his State of the State address in the Illinois House chamber in Springfield, Ill. Rauner will propose a third annual budget that is likely to be shelved by the Legislature like his first two, as he addresses a joint session of the Legislature on Wednesday, Feb. 15. (Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register via AP, File)
February 15, 2017 - 1:04 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Latest on Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget address (all times local):

4 p.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is proposing what he calls a balanced budget. But expected spending outstrips revenue by at least $4 billion. And it could be more.

Rauner gave his third budget address Wednesday amid a two-year budget stalemate.

The first-term governor outlined a plan he said would spend $37 billion. But revenue is only expected to come in at $33 billion.

Rauner budget director Scott Harry says lawmakers can help fill the gap by agreeing to unspecified spending cuts, tax increases and economic growth.

But the plan actually would spend $39 billion unless Rauner is able to make changes he seeks to pension costs, health insurance and more. Much of those cuts need legislative approval.


2:30 p.m.

Democrats are questioning whether Gov. Bruce Rauner's plans will produce a balanced budget to help the state dig itself out of a multibillion dollar deficit.

Illinois House Democratic budget negotiator Rep. Greg Harris says the Republican governor shouldn't count on as-yet-unauthorized savings from pension reform, health care cuts and the sale of property to make ends meet.

Harris says including those savings in the budget leaves Democrats with questions. He plans on reviewing the proposal to ensure it doesn't shortchange workers. But he says he's "heartened" that the first-term governor wants to work with all four caucuses.

House Speaker Michael Madigan also released a statement following the governor's address calling Rauner's budget unbalanced. The statement says House leadership will focus on continuing to protect middle class families while promoting economic growth.


1:40 p.m.

Democrats are criticizing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for deflecting blame for Illinois' financial crisis and putting his political agenda ahead of resolving the state budget impasse.

The Republican repeated his calls for pro-business legislation during his budget address Wednesday. He says the best way to improve the economy is to pass measures such as legislative term limits and workers' compensation reform.

Democratic state Sen. Tom Cullerton says it was Rauner's third budget speech with "no real numbers." He says Illinois needs solutions, "not political buzz words." Sen. Daniel Biss says Rauner ducked responsibility.

But Republicans were complimentary.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (rah-DOH'-nyoh) says Rauner demonstrated his willingness to work with both parties.

Radogno says she and other Republicans want a bipartisan compromise that's "a good deal for the taxpayers."


1 p.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner put his annual budget speech on a short hold because of problems with the teleprompter.

The Republican was speaking Wednesday when the teleprompter where the speech is displayed for him to read apparently stopped working.

A lawmaker handed Rauner a printed copy. But Rauner said he didn't have his reading glasses and "I'm a little old for this type."

The delay lasted for several minutes, during which Rauner asked if anyone had "a good story" and told the audience he wouldn't sing because he's no good at it.

After turning briefly to Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, Rauner said Madigan had quipped: "It's the Russians." That remark drew laughter from across the chamber.


12:45 p.m.

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 and called for a "hard cap" on spending to force frugality.

But Rauner pointed out that more than 60 per cent 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.


12:35 p.m.

Democrats in the Illinois Legislature erupted in laughter at Gov. Bruce Rauner's statements that he proposed a balanced budget in 2015 and that the impasse isn't about "assigning blame."

The Republican is giving his annual budget address Wednesday, as lawmakers approach two years without agreement on a spending plan.

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.

Democrats also laughed loudly when Rauner said he's not pointing fingers. Rauner frequently blames Democrats for the situation and heavily funds Illinois Republican Party attacks on lawmakers.


12:15 p.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says Illinois lawmakers of both parties agree for the first time that the state needs regulatory change as well as reduced spending.

He says "on this, we all now agree. And that is real progress."

Rauner began his third budget address Wednesday by praising bipartisan Senate negotiations attempting to break a two-year deadlock on an annual spending plan.

Rauner has insisted on business-friendly changes such as restrictions on workers' compensation payouts as part of a budget agreement. Democrats have said he should agree with them on the way to reduce a multibillion-dollar deficit first.

But the Senate plan addresses workers' compensation and other Rauner priorities such as a property tax freeze. It also would raise income taxes.


12 p.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner will reject an increased sales tax on food and medicine and demand a permanent property-tax freeze in his third budget announcement.

The Republican also wants lawmakers to cap spending to force frugal state spending. The Associated Press obtained in advance excerpts of the speech scheduled for noon Wednesday.

The first-term governor will offer a glimpse of the type of tax increases he'll accept. For weeks he's said he did not want to interfere with negotiations in the Senate to try to break a nearly two-year logjam that has left the state without an annual spending plan.

The Senate plan includes a 4.99 per cent income tax increase and a two-year freeze on local property taxes. Rauner says he'll reject an income-tax hike unless the property-tax freeze is permanent.


4 a.m.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner will propose a third annual budget that is likely to be shelved by the Legislature like his first two.

Rauner addresses a joint session of the Legislature on Wednesday. He will outline budget priorities for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

There has been no state budget since July 2015. The Republican has bickered with Democrats in the Legislature over increasing taxes and cutting spending.

The state is on track to build up a $5 billion deficit by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. It has $11 billion in overdue bills and pension-program shortfalls totally $130 billion.

The Senate has been working on a plan that increases revenue and addresses some Rauner priorities.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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