Rauner calls for unity ahead of special session

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Tonight, ahead of a 10-day special session, Governor Rauner will speak directly to Illinois residents.

Billed as a “unity speech,” the governor is pressuring the Democratic-led legislature to send him a spending plan.

Rauner called lawmakers back to work to try end the almost two year budget stalemate.

The House has not yet voted on a $37 billion Senate bill that would cut spending and raise new revenue.

It’s not clear whether House Speaker Michael Madigan will move that bill or put forth his on plan.

Whatever ultimately happens, Democrats say the tonight’s speech is a political stunt.

Complicating negotiations is Rauner’s 2018 rhetoric. The governor’s reelection campaign is airing anti- Madigan TV commercials.

The special sessions kicks off with Illinois near financial ruin.  The pile of unpaid bills has climbed to $15 billion and ratings agencies are threatening to downgrade the state’s credit to junk.

Today, in a letter to the governor, the Democratic comptroller Susana Mendoza warned the crisis will reach a new level on July 1.

She said in part,

It is critical that the state’s fiscal situation be addressed immediately before the cash shortages this summer cause further deterioration.

Illinois owes school districts more than a billion dollars.  The Chicago Pubic School district, which is on life-support, just purchased a $275 million loan at an initial interest rate of 6.39 percent. It is a short-term band aid.

IDOT is aslo warning that 25,000 jobs could be lost when more than $2 billion in projects would be forced to stop if Springfield doesn’t pass funding.

Last summer, deadlocked lawmakers passed an eleventh-hour stopgap bill for vital services and education. But this year, that is not an option that has been discussed.