With no budget, Rauner delivers State of the State

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Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his second State of the State address Wednesday. (WLS)

Despite no budget deal, Gov. Bruce Rauner made his case Wednesday in his second State of the State address - changes he says will make the state more competitive.

Rauner is also promising to take a more bipartisan approach to solving issues in the coming months.

"To achieve a grand compromise, we must cast partisanship and ideology aside," he said.

But during most of his 35-minute speech, the governor warned that Illinois' economic problems would continue if the state does not adopt his anti-union, pro-business reforms.

"Pretty soon the unions won't have any more jobs to unionize and the trial lawyers won't have any more businesses to sue," he said.

While Rauner spoke, hundreds crowded the capitol rotunda, demanding the governor focus on a budget with enough money to support endangered social programs.

"People are losing their jobs, they're losing their educational opportunities. They're losing the services that they need. And it doesn't seem like this governor is putting together any kind of plan to fix any of that," said State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D).

"What I heard is peace in our time, an opportunity the governor gave to extend the olive branch and try to work in a bipartisan fashion," said State Rep. Ron Sandack (R).

The governor's political "arch-enemy", House Speaker Michael Madigan, said the speech did not address state government's most pressing problem.

"The governor's speech did not deal with the fact that there is no budget for the current fiscal year," Madigan said.

Madigan's Democratic supermajority in the House continues to be threatened by South Side State Rep. Ken Dunkin, who applauded parts of the governor's speech. Dunkin criticized Madigan for prolonging the budget stalemate.

"We should not hold citizens in this state hostage to Mike Madigan's political shenanigans," Dunkin said.

The governor noted efforts to compromise with Senate President John Cullerton on pension and education funding reform as signs of progress. He mentioned no such efforts with Madigan.

And on raising taxes, Rauner repeated it will not happen on his watch without pro-business reforms.

"Raising taxes without improving our ability to compete will not help the people of Illinois. In fact, it will make things worse," Rauner said.

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The state's budget impasse is impacting social services as well as education.

In 26 days, Cedric Henderson expects to be homeless.

"We're all scrambling right now to find a place to go and a lot of places we want to go, they won't accept us or they're full," Henderson said.

Henderson blames Rauner and the Democratic legislative leaders. Their inability to agree means many aid agencies aren't being paid.

The residential care facility where Henderson has received drug and alcohol counseling is closing.

"They didn't make a budget and it's effecting all these people. It affected us, the staff, now they're out of jobs and we're out of a place to live. So it's their fault," Henderson said.

People with disabilities are also impacted. The state owes $4.8 million to organizations that help them move out of nursing facilities and into accessible homes. So some are essentially stuck.

"We know they can't because our quota of bringing people out of nursing homes back to the community is down," said Frances Madnick.

"Many of our sister agencies are going out of business. They have long lines of credit with the banks which can't last forever," said Tom Wilson, Access Living.

On the University of Illinois-Chicago campus, the state promised 8,000 students tuition assistance but hasn't paid a dime. The university is stepping in for now but there's not guarantee how long they can keep it up.

"Sometimes I feel like I should not be here anymore because I can't pay for it," said Christina Rezkalla, a UIC sophomore.

For Henderson, the state budget battle is about much more than money.

ABC7's Ben Bradley: "Do you worry you'll slip back into your old habits?"
Henderson: "Yeah, it's always a worry. It's always there."

Related Topics:
politicsBruce Raunerillinois budgetstate of the state
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