Budget battle brewing among Illinois, Chicago

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The Illinois house convened Tuesday, but with just five days to pass the state's $36 billion budget, lawmakers were discussing other issues.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is watching closely.

He says Chicago is the state's economic engine -- and worries that possible cuts to education and public transportation could hamper economic growth.

“The cuts that are being proposed would dramatically impact our neighborhood economies and our ability to effectively get people from where they live to where they work, and also recruit companies to the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

As the May 31 deadline looms, there is a growing divide between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Rauner is proposing huge cuts, while Democrats are looking to protect government programs.

In a rare press conference Monday, Madigan proposed a plan to spend ... without the money.

“We will publicly acknowledge that we don't have the money," Madigan said.

In other words, the Democrats want to put state spending on the credit card, a move that could add $3 billion in debt to a state that is struggling with the nation's worst funded pension system and lowest credit rating.

Madigan's maneuver would force Rauner to either increase taxes, or make unpopular cuts himself.

Rauner says before he'll even discuss raising taxes, Democrats must adopt his so-called "turnaround agenda," which includes:

- Workers compensation reforms

- So-called “right-to-work” zones

- A property tax freeze

- Term limits

- Lawsuit restrictions

“The governor and the legislative body has to pass a budget that reflects the priorities not only for the state, but for the city of Chicago. and they can not balance the budget on the backs of the people of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

 

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