Illinois Senate Democratic leaders had few positives comments regarding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address last week.
State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), who is running to be the Democratic nominee for attorney general, said the governor gave an empty speech about working together in a bipartisan fashion, but has shown time and time again that he is unwilling to reach across the aisle.
“His words ring hollow because he has acted more like a politician than a governor for the last three years, and only now has he decided to act like a bipartisan executive,” Raoul said. “He once again took credit for accomplishments that weren’t his own. He praised the historic school funding reform that he initially vetoed and is still trying to keep from being implemented.”
Raoul said Rauner can show he wants to work with both sides of the aisle by coming up with a balanced budget, which is to be unveiled next week.
“If he truly wants to follow through on those bipartisan promises, he will need to do his job this year and work with members of both parties to put forward a balanced budget,” Raoul said.
State Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), who chairs the Senate Human Services Committee, said there was no acknowledgment of human services in the governor’s address.
“Our human service providers took the brunt of Illinois’ protracted budget impasse, causing many providers to simply bleed out and close their doors,” Morrison said. “The damage that has been done will not be mitigated overnight, and will take years, at best, to recover.”
The senator said she is concerned about the funding that will be allocated to human services in the next budget.
“I didn’t seem to hear any sense of urgency from the governor in relation to the condition of our human service network,” Morrison said. “I am concerned the governor will further cut already decimated programs, and I look forward to the governor’s budget address when details of how he plans to balance the budget and invest in our social services are made public.”
State Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill), who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee, called Rauner’s address “a 1 percenter’s view of higher education.”
McGuire said the governor only mentioned one Illinois school of higher learning — the University of Illinois — in his State of the State.
“He ignored 80 percent of the students attending college in the state of Illinois,” McGuire said. “He mentioned MIT, he mentioned Harvard, he mentioned Stanford. I’m really disappointed that the governor continues to be fixated on highly selective, elite institutions at the expense of Illinois’ community colleges and public universities.”
He said that he is hearing from public universities that the record exodus of Illinois high school graduates going to schools out of state is because of the uncertainty about programs being able to continue and Monetary Award Program grants being continued.
“The governor needs to make clear that he is willing to invest in higher education,” McGuire said. “It is the surest way to grow our economy.”
Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) said that Rauner failed Illinois once again with his State of the State address.
“I feel that he has failed us on many aspects of education reform. We are still dealing with that although we passed a bipartisan bill,” Martinez said. “We have a new funding formula that we think will work, but here he is, still vetoing aspects of it. So again, it’s another year where he presents the address, talks about how great Illinois is and the good things that have happened in Illinois, but as a leader he has failed us in not doing anything more in working with the Legislature in a unifying fashion to move our state forward.”
State Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park), who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, said Rauner is not addressing the true issues facing the state.
“(It) was simply another Bruce Rauner pep rally from an alternate universe,” Cullerton said. “Back-porch deals, crony warehouse contracts and a public health scandal at a veterans home are all he has to show for three years in office. This governor continues to live in a fantasy land while everyone else tries to deal with the realities he ignores.”
State Sen. Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) said the governor’s address was far too light on details.
“While the governor laid out broad ideas, he again failed to present a plan to accomplish them,” Stadelman said. “In each of the last three years, we have seen the governor present extensive goals, but fail to achieve them due to combative, partisan politics. It’s my hope the governor will finally be able to present a balanced budget that will attain bipartisan support and brings our state back to financial stability.”
—- Illinois Democrats blast Rauner’s address —-