Sen. Duffy listens intently to Governor Rauner's first Budget Address on Feb. 18 on the Illinois House floor.
Governor Rauner painted a somber, but honest snapshot of Illinois’ current fiscal state during his Feb. 18 Budget Address. After 13 years of one-party Democrat rule that relied on budget gimmicks and exploiting loopholes, Gov. Rauner outlined a clear and comprehensive approach toward solving the state’s budget crisis, said State Senator Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington).
“Governor Rauner’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget blueprint to ‘turnaround Illinois’ focuses on reducing wasteful spending and government bureaucracy and replacing it with honest and balanced accounting,” said Sen. Duffy. “His priorities to increase education funding, improve public safety and reform the criminal justice system, as well as reduce our state deficit, are critical to Illinois’ fiscal recovery.”
Calling it a “turnaround budget,” Gov. Rauner said his $31.5 billion FY 2016 fiscal plan reduces spending while still funding essential government services. The Governor emphasized that the budget is balanced and intends to structurally reform state government, without relying on a tax increase or financial gimmicks. The plan eliminates a $6.2 billion structural deficit and includes $500 million to pay down the state’s unpaid bill backlog. As a result, Gov. Rauner said his proposal “improves public safety, provides care for our most vulnerable, boosts funding for education, and restructures the core costs of state government that are holding us back.”
“No longer can we tax and spend our way out of this budget hole,” said Sen. Duffy. “As the Governor emphasized this week, fundamental reforms to eliminate waste and inefficiencies in state government are essential before revenue increases can be discussed.”
The budget boosts funding for education, which was reduced during Gov. Quinn’s Administration. Gov. Rauner’s budget proposal reflects his commitment to education, increasing funding for early childhood and pre-K-12 education by $325 million. The spending plan also promotes public safety and criminal justice reforms, directing more state resources to corrections and juvenile justice to improve conditions in state prisons and reduce the number of offenders in Illinois.
Additionally, Gov. Rauner also announced his intent to reduce Medicaid waste and fraud by re-implementing components of the 2012 bipartisan Medicaid reform law that was later disassembled by the Quinn Administration. The Governor said that re-instituting the SMART Act and pursuing redetermination efforts will save hundreds of millions of dollars, and ensure the program stays solvent and able to care for the state’s most vulnerable and needy residents.
However, reinvigorating the state’s economy is the “real answer to our challenges,” said the Governor. He stressed that a booming economy, reliant on small businesses and entrepreneurial innovators choosing Illinois as a home base, is critical to economic growth. Gov. Rauner specifically called for workers’ compensation reform and reducing red tape as a way to help Illinois’ employers.
“After more than a decade of fiscal mismanagement, Illinois taxpayers deserve a strong leader who will pave a direct path to restoring fiscal stability in Illinois,” said Sen. Duffy. “While the road ahead will present many budget challenges and tough decisions, I am confident that Governor Rauner will work with lawmakers to pass a budget that is fair and sustainable.”