A rift may be growing between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers just as the governor wants to push his legislative agenda.
As Rauner toured the state during the legislative break touting his so-called “turnaround agenda,” he said he believed lawmakers would be willing to work with him after reaching an agreement on the budget fix for the current fiscal year.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised how good a working relationship we’ve been able to create with the General Assembly,” Rauner said. “Democrats and Republicans, they’re good people there, they’re there for the right reasons, and I’ve enjoyed my time with them.”
But the budget fix is why some Democrats are now saying they can’t trust Rauner. State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) says Rauner suspended $26 million in grants to programs he supposedly promised to leave untouched, which Lang says will hurt the chances of legislators moving on any part of Rauner’s agenda.
“He didn’t become czar of Illinois, he became governor of Illinois,” Lang said. “He’s a co-equal partner with the General Assembly in moving Illinois forward. He’s not our boss. We’re not his middle management. We’re his partners in government, and until he chooses to treat us as his partners in government, there’s going to be a price to pay for the citizens of Illinois.”
Rauner claims neither he nor his budget staff broke any promises.
During his recent tour around the state Rauner has been saying his legislative agenda should be passed before legislators begin crafting the budget bills for the next fiscal year. Lang questions that strategy, saying “that’s not the way government works.”