With Grand Bargain Still Iffy, Watchdog Calls Rauner Budget Incomplete

CHICAGO (CBS) — A fiscal watchdog group has taken a dim view of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s current budget plan.

The Civic Federation has issued an 86-page report on the governor’s 2018 budget plan, and has said the proposal falls short.

“We are, unfortunately, not able to support Governor Rauner’s proposed budget, because it fails to close – with specificity – a $4.6 billion deficit,” Civic Federation president and CEO Laurence Msall said.

Msall said the governor’s plan relies on passage of the so-called “Grand Bargain” being negotiated in the Illinois Senate, but it’s unclear what’s in that package of legislation, or whether it will pass in either the Senate or the House.

“There are many good components of the Grand Bargain, but that’s not the same as identifying how your budget is going to be balanced, and where the cuts and where the increased revenue are going to be,” Msall said. “From a budget standpoint, it’s too difficult to understand all the moving parts of the Grand Bargain, and it’s unclear whether in fact it will be passed.”

Rauner defended said he sees the budget situation as a work in progress.

“I’ve encouraged the senators to keep working and to come to a truly balanced budget with changes so we can keep our budgets balanced,” he said.

The governor’s office reiterated his long-held view that decades of fiscal mismanagement are the reason the state finds itself in its current crisis.

The Civic Federation said its main message is the state can’t keep going the way it has been, with no full state budget having passed in the last two years.

“The state is in a very bad financial position. It’s getting worse. We cannot afford to continue to operate without a budget. We need the members of the General Assembly and the governor to come together and compromise to balance the budget so that we are not spending more than we are taking in,” Msall said.

Watch & Listen LIVE