Governor Rauner gives address focused on unity, budget

ByEric Horng and Craig Wall WLS logo
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Governor Rauner gives address focused on unity, budget
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner gave an unprecedented budget-focused state-wide address Tuesday before the start of a special legislative session Wednesday.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner gave an unprecedented budget-focused state-wide address Tuesday, the day before the start of a special legislative session.

The governor did not let reporters into the address and took no questions. The speech lasted three minutes and 15 seconds.

From behind the podium set up in the historic Old State Capital building, Rauner tried to bring an end to the historic budget impasse that has crippled Illinois during the three years there has been no balanced budget.

Senate Democrats made it clear Tuesday they had no interest in any stop gap budgets, saying that will only make matters worse down the road and delay making the hard choices the state needs to make during this special session.

"We've gone 700-plus days without a budget. The governor has gone 700-plus days without introducing a budget. You'll never have a budget until the chief executive of a city or a state - and in this case, the state - introduces a budget," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

But recognizing the problem won't solve the current crisis that has put social services and higher education into a desperate situation, threatens a state-wide shut down of road construction, and has the state comptroller warning Illinois is so broke it may soon be unable to make some payments mandated by law.

"I've stated since the beginning of the year that I will work with the Democrats and find a way to work with them and pass something that reflects their priorities. As long as they know our priorities must be respected as well. It's a two-way street," said State Rep. Jim Durkin, House Minority Leader.

A new study predicts the state will lose 23,000 jobs and $2 billion in economic activity if road construction halts at the end of the month.


Democrats pushed back and blamed the governor for failing to compromise, and they dismissed his calls for unity as mere talk. Rep. Greg Harris released a video as the official Democratic response.

"Governor, your actions speak louder than your campaign rhetoric. After more than 700 days of blocking compromise it's up to you to prove you are finally ready to put the needs of Illinois families ahead of political games and start working in good faith on a budget," he said.

Democratic lawmakers responded to the governor's three minute 15 second unity address on budget.

Earlier in the day Illinois Senate President John Cullerton had planned to be available for comment after the speech, but cancelled his availability due to illness. ABC7 Eyewitness News also reached out to House Speaker Michael Madigan, who made Harris, the Democrats' lead budget negotiator, available for comment.

"I would love to work together in unity. My idea of unity is not giving a speech about unity while spending millions of dollars on attack ads, attacking the people who you want to unify with, that doesn't seem to be a really good idea.

"I remain hopeful and confident, but here's the problem. We saw what happened before when people got things done. We saw in the Senate, when Republicans and Democrats in the Senate got something done, and at the last minute the governor came along and pulled the rug out from underneath them. We saw last December, when we were having leaders meetings in the city of Chicago, when progress started to be made the governor canceled the leaders meetings. So you've gotta ask yourself, even if the legislature does reach an agreement, where's the governor going to be?" Harris said.

WATCH: Laurence Msall of The Civic Federation analyzes governor's speech

Laurence Msall of The Civil Federation offers analysis of Governor Rauner's unity address.


State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) released a statement, saying, ""I am open to considering any reasonable solutions to this hole that Governor Rauner has put our state in. But we cannot entertain old, recycled proposals that are presented as new ideas. On May 23, I voted for a balanced budget that is not just a spending plan - it includes the necessary legislation to pay for the spending proposed. The House GOP has yet to introduce a bill to pay for their spending."

Chicago Alderman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ameya Pawar released a statement saying, in part, "Gov. Rauner is a liar, a fraud and a flake. In his brief televised address tonight, he said he wants to work with all members of the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget during the special session, but he's attacking Democrats with TV ads, mailers and flyers. He said he supports equitable funding for public education, but he has threatened to veto a bill which would increase funding to 270 school districts in our state, including Chicago's. When he was campaigning for governor he said he was pro-choice, but now he's against a bill that would expand health care coverage for women that would provide more access to abortion care. This has gone on too long. The governor has been exploiting the divisions between Chicago and the rest of the state and using coded language to play off people's fears. He would rather see our state divided to put more money in the pockets of his donors than do his job and improve the lives of people across all communities."

Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker released a statement, saying in part, "Today, on day 720 of the budget crisis, after regularly scheduled session has come and gone, Bruce Rauner has decided he wants to give the impression that he'd like to work together to get something done. But for almost three years the people of Illinois have seen the impact of Governor Rauner's disastrous and divisive 'leadership.' As Rauner tries to save his political career, no amount of lip service can change the fact that all he's done as governor is attack, deny, blame, and divide our state."

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin released a statement, saying, "Illinois is at a critical crossroad and time is running out. Governor Rauner correctly stated that Illinois must change in order to attract employers and keep jobs and families from permanently crossing our borders. We can start by passing a compromise budget with reforms that will provide critical funding to programs and services while protecting Illinois taxpayers. Republicans from both chambers have placed a package of bills on the table that reflects the priorities of both parties in both chambers and has the support of the Governor. These concepts are not new and legislators from both chambers should immediately finish the negotiations to break the impasse. House Republicans are prepared to finish the job and call upon House Democrats to join us."

Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti released a statement saying, in part, "Illinois' need for a balanced budget is more critical than ever. The governor made clear his willingness to work with the General Assembly to reach an agreement on a balanced budget to grow our economy and create jobs. ... There is a compromise solution on the table. We need the General Assembly to act. Illinoisans deserve a truly balanced budget that will ensure the long term stability of our great state."

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy released a statement saying, in part, "Governor Rauner promised a grand, unifying speech. Instead, all we got was a few minutes of empty remarks in an empty room. The only unifying thing Bruce Rauner is doing is bringing voters together to support radical change in Illinois. We have state leadership that has completely and utterly failed us. It doesn't have to be this way. Compromise - real compromise - like the kind that happens before the session ends when lawmakers are debating the merits of their proposals, is not surrender. This speech is indicative of Rauner's views on 'unity.' He goes around our lawmakers, operates outside our legislative process, and talks into a camera in an empty room instead of bringing us a balanced budget."

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss released a statement, saying, "Illinoisans were just subjected to the worst infomercial in our state's fiscal history-advertising more of the same hypocrisy out of Governor Rauner that we've seen over his entire term. While saying "failure to act is not an option" with regards to passing a budget, he doubles down on the very fecklessness that's gotten us here in the first place. I'll remind the governor that he has chosen not to act for the last two years, putting himself, his wealthy friends, and his campaign first. It's time he and Speaker Madigan sit down, take action, and end this pain."


Governor Bruce Rauner's address on unity and the Illinois budget.

Good evening,

Thank you for joining us here in the historic Old State Capitol in Springfield.

It was here in Representative Hall that Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech that would change the course of history, where he proclaimed: "a House divided against itself cannot stand."

Our history reminds us of our state's great capacity for change - and for our limitless potential when those elected by the people put the people's interests ahead of all else.

Right now, our state is in real crisis - and the actions we take in the days ahead will determine how history remembers us. We can all do better. We MUST all do better for the citizens of Illinois.

We've asked the General Assembly to come together in a special session for the next 10 days - not as Democrats and Republicans - but as leaders who share bipartisan concern for our state's future.

We must agree on a balanced budget plan, and get it to my desk before the end of the state's fiscal year - one week from Friday.
Last week, we reviewed a compromise budget plan that I can sign - one that we can all support. It moves us to middle ground on key issues. It is truly balanced. It funds schools, higher education, and human services. It provides a real path to property tax reduction.

The plan also stands tall for fundamentals. Spending reductions. Limits on expenses. Debt reduction. And term limits on legislative leaders and statewide officeholders, including the Governor.

If we can agree to pass it, this plan will send a message across our state and around the nation that we are serious about making Illinois a more attractive destination for investment, new businesses, and new jobs.

If we can agree to pass it, we will stop this unnecessary crisis.

Failure to act is not an option. Failure to act may cause permanent damage to our state that will take years to overcome.

Over the next 10 days, we have an opportunity to change the State of Illinois for the better. To give our people a future they can believe in. To give job creators a reason to come, and families a reason to stay.

We CAN reach an agreement. After all, we share a common mission. We seek to achieve a greater good, to create a better life for our children and grandchildren here in Illinois.

The proposals before us represent a common-sense compromise to put us on a better path.

So, on the eve of what may become one of the most important legislative sessions in Illinois history, we're asking the General Assembly to do what those who came before us did that changed the course of history: have the courage to dare to do what is right ... to act for the people.

And together, we will create a brighter future for every family across Illinois.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless our beloved State of Illinois. And God bless the United States of America.