Gov. Rauner wants full-year state budget; leaders meeting planned – The State Journal

Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday he wants lawmakers to send him a budget that covers the entire next fiscal year, not just a portion of it.

Rauner said achieving a full-year, balanced budget will be the focus of a meeting he plans with the four legislative leaders Thursday. The meeting comes as lawmakers return to Springfield to begin the final eight weeks of the spring session.

Rauner said wants “a truly balanced budget for a full year, not a partial year, a full-year balanced budget with no new taxes that lives within our means.”

He said the process should start with the General Assembly formally establishing revenue estimates for the fiscal year that starts July 1 as is required by law.

“That has not been done properly in Illinois for years,” he said.

In fact, revenue estimates projected by Rauner’s budget office and the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability are nearly identical.

Some Republican lawmakers have publicly suggested the majority Democrats want to pass only a partial budget that gets the state past the election. However, some key Democratic budget negotiators have denied any such plan is in the works. And others, like Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, have expressed doubts the Democrats want Democrat J.B. Pritzker to immediately face a budget crisis should he be elected.

Illinois lawmakers approved a 32 percent income tax increase last year to help balance the state budget. There has been no serious discussion of another tax increase this year when most lawmakers are up for election.

At the same time, several money saving ideas Rauner proposed in his budget are meeting stiff opposition in the legislature. Rauner wants to shift pension costs for downstate school teachers away from the state and onto local school districts. He also wants to impose cost cuts on state worker health insurance.

Spokesmen for Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan said the two men plan to attend Thursday’s meeting. It will be the first time the governor and four leaders met since Feb. 14 when they all gathered briefly in Rauner’s office before his budget speech.

At his Chicago news conference, Rauner laid out his agenda for the remainder of the spring session. He again called on lawmakers to approve a pension reform bill that he said will allow the state to begin rolling back the income tax increase.

He also said he wants “mandate relief” that will allow local governments to reduce their property taxes. That includes consolidating local governments, restricting prevailing wage laws and curtailing school mandates.

Rauner said he wants an infrastructure improvement plan approved and wants lawmakers to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot this year to put term limits on elected officials.

Rauner did not specifically mention a constitutional amendment to change how political boundaries are drawn in the state, although he said he still supports the idea. Also, he did not list repairs or reconstruction of the Quincy veterans home on his priority list.

The General Assembly is scheduled to conclude its spring session May 31.

Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr.

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