The following is a statement from Health & Medicine in response to Governor Rauner's February 17th budget address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly:
In his second budget address
yesterday, Governor Rauner talked about the Illinois economy, but what he should be focusing on is the unnecessary fiscal crisis that is costing jobs and harming people’s health and well-being.
Gov. Rauner speaks about the laudable goal of supporting early and K-12 education, but his actions have already harmed children throughout the state. Family programs (including those offered by The Autism Project, Epilepsy Grants, and services for homeless youth just to name a few) have been needlessly cut due to lack of funding. These do not seem like the sort of “compassionate”, “responsible” solutions the Governor claims to promote.
While we applaud the idea of “real reforms” that support our state, we reject Gov. Rauner’s “turnaround agenda” which would reduce the wages and benefits of Illinois’ hardworking people. Now the Governor offers the “option” of giving him sweeping powers in the form of Emergency Budget Authority to put out the political fire that he helped start. We disagree. There is only one reasonable way to resolve this crisis: Illinois’ State elected officials—both the Governor and General Assembly—need to carry out their shared responsibility of passing a budget with sufficient revenue to support our people and economy.
The structural reform for Illinois’ budget is the same one that most states have already chosen: a progressive income tax. In Illinois, middle and lower income families shoulder a disproportionate share of the tax burden, which would be relieved by distributing tax rates more fairly through progressive taxation. Gov. Rauner’s approach of “my way or my way” is no way for the state to reach the compromise he claims to want. Illinois needs a budget backed by sufficient revenue and we need it now.