Suburban mayors criticize Rauner budget cuts

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More Illinois mayors are complaining about Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed reductions in state money for local governments.

The governor says Illinois spends beyond its means. He claims the reductions to municipalities would put Illinois in line with surrounding states.

"You can't solve the state's problems by impoverishing its cities," said Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner.

They represent the region's small cities and suburbs who collectively would lose hundreds of millions should the General Assembly approve Rauner's plan to reduce the amount of state aid to local governments.

"It merely transfers a budget problem from state government to local governments," said Frankfort Mayor Jim Holland.

Currently, the state shares about $1.2 billion with municipalities. The governor has proposed a 50 percent cut.

For another day, Rauner would not answer reporters' questions. ABC 7 approached him after a speech during which he blamed the state's projected $6 billion deficit on overspending and insider deals.

"Illinois democracy has been hijacked by insiders, the folks who make their money from inside the government," Rauner said.

The governor's office emailed a statement saying:

"The amount of money transferred to local governments over the last decade has skyrocketed by 42 percent. The reduction to local governments proposed in the budget puts Illinois in line with neighboring states."

"It's like the state is failing and they want to take the municipalities down with it. I'm not going to stand for that," said Hanover Park Village President Rod Craig.

Criticizing the new governor puts most of these officials in a difficult place politically. Rauner, who promised to shake up state government, won the collar counties by overwhelming margins last November.

"We want to see where this all pans out. Right now we're facing a clear and present danger," said Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully.

The mayors are worried enough to set up a new website called ProtectMyTown.com to resist the governor's effort to cut aid to local governments.

Rauner, meanwhile, is repeating his appeal to voters to support his so-called "turnaround agenda".

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