Democrats hold budget hearing while Rauner tours Amazon fulfillment center

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As Governor Bruce Rauner toured an Amazon fulfillment center in Romeoville Thursday, Illinois House Democrats were in Chicago holding the first budget hearing since walking away from Springfield without a budget.

The point was to hear from the people hurt the most by the 708-day-old budget impasse, like those who rely on social service agencies.

Yvette Ruffin, a domestic violence survivor, works at the agency that helped her when she needed it most.

"The funding, we really need it because these women are in dire need of these services," said Ruffin.

While their stories of state funding cuts were emotional, Rauner called the hearing a sham, saying Democrats are using the witnesses as props.

"Instead of doing what they should be doing, negotiating a balanced budget in Springfield, they are taking advantage of these people who are being hurt," Rauner said.

"These folks aren't props, they are heroes," said State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago).

Harris said public hearings are part of the budget process, but some of his Republican colleagues accused the Democrats of using the hearing to bash Rauner.

"A balanced budget comes when we work together, not when we take cheap political shots at each another," said State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Rochelle).

Other Republicans said it's time for the Governor to call a special session.

"I'm not sure what he is waiting for, he should call a special session today, we should be down there tomorrow and every day until we get a balanced budget," said State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington).

If there is a special session called, McSweeney suggested his colleagues not get paid.

July 1st is now the deadline for lawmakers to end the budget impasse. More votes are needed to pass a plan, which means Democrats and many Republicans must agree on a deal.
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