Two weeks after giving his initial assessment of the challenges facing Illinois, Governor Bruce Rauner unveiled a tough, but necessary plan to put the state’s fiscal house in order, according to Senator Jim Oberweis.
Governor Rauner outlined his $31.5 billion budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016 to a joint session of Illinois lawmakers February 18 in the House of Representatives. Senator Oberweis was a member of the committee of lawmakers who escorted the Governor to the House chambers to present his first Budget Address.
“I am a businessman and I recognize a businessman’s approach in addressing our state’s fiscal crisis. Governor Rauner has approached this task with comprehensive analysis and has offered an open, honest assessment. It is refreshing to hear the truth about the terrible financial mess our state is in and to hear real, long-term solutions instead of gimmicks to postpone the inevitable. He has aired out the smoke-filled back rooms and put the mirrors and sleight-of-hand games in storage,” Senator Oberweis said. “We have been presented with a budget that actually matches revenues and expenditures. It reduces spending while funding public safety, education and essential care for our most vulnerable citizens.”
The 25th District Senator says he applauds Governor Rauner’s call for shared sacrifice, and notes that he has already implemented cost-cutting measures in his district and state offices.
“Representative Keith Wheeler and I are sharing a district office. In Springfield, Senator Chris Nybo and I are sharing a legislative aide,” Senator Oberweis said. “They are small steps, but they show we are willing to make sacrifices to save taxpayer dollars. Every little bit helps.”
Senator Oberweis said many of Governor Rauner’s tough decisions stem from the cumulative effect of 12 years of tax-and-spend government under former Governor Rod Blagojevich and former Governor Pat Quinn.
Highlights of Rauner’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget include:
• Eliminates $6.2 billion structural deficit.
• Relies on no tax increases or borrowing.
• Includes $500 million to pay down unpaid bill backlog.
• Increases K-12 education spending by roughly $300 million.
• Increases early childhood education funding by $25 million.
• Most money for education general state aid in Illinois history.
• Enacts true pension and benefit reform, saving the state nearly $3 billion in the first year.
• Looks at the state as a whole and treats all regions fairly.
• Focuses on core functions of government and delivers essential services.
Invests in our children
• The budget increases funding for early childhood and pre-K-12 education.
• Leaves intact health and human services programs for children, including children of immigrants.
• Foster care services for children are not reduced.
• Child care dollars are prioritized to serve the youngest children to prepare them for school.
Prioritizes care for the most vulnerable
• Programs that serve our aging or disabled populations will focus on those with higher needs, rather than those most able to care for themselves.
Promotes public safety and reforms criminal justice system
• Increases corrections and juvenile justice budgets in order to improve conditions in state prisons and reduce the number of offenders in Illinois.
Focuses on programs that serve the entire state
• Public health and state police laboratories, licensing and permitting functions, inspections and statewide road maintenance were prioritized over services to specific populations.
The 25th District Senator said he is willing to work with Governor Rauner and other lawmakers to address Illinois’ budget crisis.