Lawmakers from Evanston decried Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed spending cuts at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast this morning and said his proposed state budget is wildly out of balance.

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said the governor has set up a rhetoric of enemies and bad guys he wants to punish and friends he wants to reward or leave alone.

State Sen. Daniel Biss.

For example, Biss said, the governor claims trial lawyers shouldn’t be able to make campaign contributions to judges — suggesting the contributions allow the plaintiff’s bar to buy influence with the judiciary. But, Biss said, on the other side of legal disputes there are big insurance companies and large corporations — and the governor doesn’t say they should be barred from contriubting to judges.

The state’s problems are not simple — structural changes are required, Biss said, but they won’t happen in an enviornment where you’re trying to tear somebody down.

County Commissioner Larry Suffredin said the governor wants lawmakers to endorse his turnaround plan first and then work on the state budget — a budget that is supposed to be adopted by the end of this month.

But everything in the turnaround plan addresses only long term solutions, Suffredin said. None of it impacts the budget that has to be passed this month.

State Rep. Robyn Gabel.

State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) said the governor’s budget got zero votes when it was introduced in the House — all the Democrats voted against it and the Republicans all voted “present.”

It’s not balanced, she said, relying on $2.2 billion in savings from pension changes that the state Supreme Court last week ruled are unconstitutional.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) pointed to a Chicago Tribune column from last week which argued that another billionnaire governor — the Minnesota liberal Mark Dayton, an heir to the Target fortune — has fixed that state’s financial woes.

Dayton, who inherited a $6.2 billion budget deficit from Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, pushed through $2 billion in new taxes — most targeting the top 1 percent of wage earners.

Among other things, he raised the tax rate on incomes over $250,000 to 9.85 percent.

Gabel said Illinois can’t solve its financial problems without some tax increases. But Biss noted that because the Illinois constitution only permits a flat-rate income tax, now at 3.75 percent, any move toward a progressive tax model couldn’t happen until the November election in 2016.

Biss speaks with City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, while Suffredin talks to former township assessor Bonnie Wilson before the meeting.

About 65 people — many of them local office holders or government workers — attended the meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Dems trying to blame the governor for his first budget

    The breakfats was a bunch of Democrats sitting around and trying to blame the new governor's first budget.  They want us to believe that but for Gov Rauner's budget, all would be OK in Illinois.  Try again:  we elected Gov Rauner to undo the havoc these people have wrecked since 2000. 

    Here's a helpful quote:

     “The state’s failure to make its required employer contributions to the five pension systems can be traced to one, simple cause:” a state fiscal system “that is so poorly designed it, for decades, failed to generate enough revenue growth to both maintain service levels from one year to the next, and cover the state’s actuarially required employer contribution to its five pension systems.”
    – The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability


    1. Beware of Biased information and analysis

      The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability is a biased organization that receives substantial funding from union related groups. Look at their board of directors for more information. Per their website, The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability says they are "a preeminent source for objective, honest, reliable, and relevant information and analysis of local, state, and federal tax and budget-related issues." Their work is anything but objective and honest.

  2. Budget discipline—the cows come home

    Like clockwork as is regular fashion the politicians cry about needing more funding from the state. If the city [Evanston and I’m sure many more] can spend money better than the state, they should be asking Springfield to lower taxes and let the city tax and spend as they wish—and be accountable to local taxpayers. We would then also need less state government starting with the legislature.

    Also campaign to get voters and lobby groups to do the same. Springfield only gets money by taxing and fees, not from a “Money Tree.” Evanston wants other cities, most which are poorer, to in effect by taxes fund Evanston’s projects.

    Instead the Council wants to fund bars, restaurants, every type of arts project, awnings and fences, planters, businesses they pick as “winners” and many more things, but then depend on the state funding for education, child care, housing [here they also want developers to pay the bill].

    If the cities got their priorities straight, they would not need “free money” from the state, but instead spend on their pet projects and then cry poverty. When the governor wants to impose a long overdue discipline, all the special interest [city government, arts, schools] cry foul—they just want more to spend.

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