Rauner promotes turnaround agenda as impasse nears 5th month

Nearly five months into a budget impasse, Illinois leaders still can’t agree on a solution.

A number of state agencies that affect your daily lives, such as 911, mental health care, highway departments, higher education, and local health departments, are having trouble keeping the doors open because of a lack of funding.

Even after 53 years in office, Marion Mayor Bob Butler says he’s never seen anything like the current Illinois budget impasse.

"This is unique in my experience, and it’s not a good experience," said Butler.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner refused to sign a budget passed by the Democratic leadership in the summer because it featured a $5 billion deficit, and required him to raise taxes.

"We need to have a budget, but we can’t just put a massive tax hike on the people of Illinois and think that we’re going to solve this problem,” said Rauner.  “That will not solve our problem. We’ve got to get a true balanced budget."

While Rauner says he’s willing to work with the opposition, he is focused on his turnaround agenda.

"What we need to focus on is workers comp reform, tort reform, property tax relief, term limits on elected officials, and redistricting reform,” said Rauner. “That’s what we’re pushing."

During the impasse, court orders mandating that state agencies stay open have cost the state nearly $8.5 billion, according to Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger, which has local leaders calling for compromise.

"Both sides must give,” said Butler. “If they don’t, the state of Illinois is going to sink like the Titanic."

While local agencies, counties, and municipalities struggle to pay the bills without state help, Rauner says he doesn’t expect a budget to be passed until after Jan. 1, when it only takes a simple majority in the General Assembly.

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