Different sides of the political aisle interpret Rauner’s budget speech differently


Republicans heard what Democrats didn’t in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget address — taxpayer savings.

Rauner delivered his budget address to lawmakers Wednesday when he pushed for increased funding for K-12 transportation, more grants for eligible college students and more state police recruits, among other initiatives.

State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said, “I heard lots of suggestions for increased spending, a lot of popular programs, but not a lot of talk about spending cuts.”

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, said she still has some questions about the path forward.

“He’s talking about a lot of new spending and a lot of very expensive areas of the budget and very minimal cuts, reductions,” she said.

State. Sen. Chuck Weaver, R-Peoria, said he heard the proposed taxpayer savings.

“That’s the procurement reform he’s been talking about for a long period of time; and of these $3 billion in cuts that he’s talking about, they are things that taxpayers will not feel or the citizen will not feel. It’s about getting our government more efficient,” Weaver said.

The governor’s budget book says taxpayer savings can be found by making changes to funding and benefits of public pension systems, changes to health insurance for state employees, changes in how the state delivers social service programs and reforms to how the state procures goods and services. The governor also wants to divest the state from the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago.

State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said whatever plan advances — be it his plan he hopes to announce soon or the governor’s — state government has to be affordable and accountable to taxpayers, “to put forth a sincere message to the people that we are going to live within our means and we’re not going to penalize them for what we have failed to do.”

Lawmakers haven’t had a full year’s spending plan on the books since summer 2015.

The next fiscal year begins July 1.