CHICAGO (WLS) --Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke Monday about his decision to cancel his appearance at a Juneteenth event at the DuSable Museum. Father Michael Pfleger said the governor's decision was disrespectful to African Americans.
The Rauner administration is trying to put the Juneteenth controversy behind it as quickly as possible. The governor is more concerned about July 1, and wants lawmakers to go back to Springfield to work on a solution to the budget crisis.
"We are entering an absolute crisis phase. We absolutely are. And it's tragic," Rauner said.
Rauner resumed his now-weekly effort to convince lawmakers to return to Springfield. The governor said much of state government - 10 days shy of one full year without a budget - will virtually shut down without special spending authority for public schools and essential services.
"If essential government services can't function, there will be a meltdown. It would be a massive crisis. We can't let that happen," Rauner said.
The governor canceled an appearance at the DuSable Museum of African-American History where he wanted to lead a program marking the end of slavery.
"On Juneteenth weekend at the DuSable Museum? That's an insult!" Pfleger said.
Despite Rauner's decision not to appear, public sector union-sponsored demonstrators rallied anyway.
"Mr. Rauner, emancipate our state!" a demonstrator said .
"Everything that Bruce Rauner is trying to do is hurting African Americans disproportionately," said Greg Kelly, of SEIU Healthcare.
"How can you keep elected officials accountable if you ostracize them from your community," said Pastor Corey Brooks, New Beginnings Church.
Brooks, who campaigned for Rauner in 2014, said the governor should not shoulder all the blame for the budget impasse and did not create the problems in the black community.
"The raping and pillaging of our community happened way before he got in position," Brooks said. "We have Madigan, we have Cullerton, we have a black caucus and all of them are elected officials and all of them should be held accountable."
When asked if he was getting a bad rap, Rauner laughed and said: "Well, change is hard."
The governor said he remains focused on getting the Democratic leaders back to Springfield to vote on two bills - one for education funding, and another for essential services. It's the only way, he says, to avoid near-term chaos.
"Speaker Madigan and the supermajority, I believe they wanted to create a crisis. I believe that they'd like to force a tax hike without any reforms," Rauner said.
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan - who is also the state Democratic Party chairman - had promised to meet in continuous session every Wednesday. He has canceled each Wednesday since May 31 when he made the commitment.
There is no word from his office whether this week's session will happen.