Rauner Trots Out Turnaround Agenda Again On Facebook Live Today

By aaroncynic in News on Dec 13, 2016 8:44PM

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Governor Bruce Rauner outside the Director's Lawn at the Illinois State Fair in August 2016. Photo by Aaron Cynic
Gov. Bruce Rauner brought out his set of very well-worn talking points and tropes Tuesday in another Facebook Live appearance where he discussed the state budget.

Rauner spent the majority of his near 30 minute appearance on the medium laying the blame of the state budget crisis on Illinois Democrats and pushing for pieces of his ‘Turnaround’ agenda, particularly term limits and a property tax freeze.

“I’m here in Springfield, working,’ said Rauner after reading a question asking why lawmakers have been released for the holidays while the state doesn’t have a budget. “I wish the general assembly was in session meeting to negotiate a balanced budget.”

Illinois legislators and the governor came to an agreement on a stopgap solution after allowing the state to go without a budget for more than a year in July. That temporary fix though, will expire in just a few weeks, leaving the state—particularly agencies that rely on funding as well as any entity that does business with Illinois—right back where it was when the crisis began in 2015. Rauner wants state Democrats who control the majority of the legislature to accept a package of reforms he’s proposed—several of which are non-budgetary items—while they want to see revenue increases to keep basic services afloat.

“We’ve got tax revenue is coming in—actually we collect a lot,” said Rauner. “But we’ve been spending more than we bring in for decades...We’ve been deficit spending in a cycle of deficit spending, accounting gimmicks, borrowing and then taxing. That’s been going on for decades and it’s the reason we don’t have enough money to pay our bills.”

While the governor touted his plan to freeze property taxes, even he admitted that they’re necessary to keep government functioning, but to balance them out other local bodies of government could be reduced or eliminated. “Obviously we need to have property taxes to fund our schools, key local government, police, fire and key agencies,” Rauner said. “Property taxes are an important part of a functioning government. But in Illinois we have the highest in America. We have some of the worst unfunded mandates from state government. We have more units of local government— bureaus, districts, entities...many should exist but some of them are probably not necessary.”

He did not however, identify what entities he thinks are unnecessary, only that the decision should be left up to local townships.

The governor also managed to find several questions in the hundreds of comments that specifically asked about term limits—another large part of his ‘turnaround’ agenda. “Term limits are a great way to make government more responsive,” he said. “Not for a pension, not big pay, not for special interests. If we change that we’ll bring more residents and job creators.”

If the highlights from Rauner’s appearance on Facebook live—his 4th since September—sound familiar, it’s because they are. As we pointed out when the stopgap budget was passed earlier this year, comments from both Rauner and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan at the time hinted that local election rhetoric would feature a blame game of sorts, with no real long term solution. (And several local races did end up turning into a proxy war between the two.) Now that the dust has settled, it appears we’re standing on another precipice where Rauner will continue to hold his reforms over the heads of lawmakers, grinding the passage of a budget to a near halt. Meanwhile, we fully expect to see social service agencies that rely on state funding bear the brunt of another impasse.

“You can’t get an agreement unless both sides want an agreement,” said Rauner. That much is true.