Facing criticism from two past Republican governors in recent days, Gov. Bruce Rauner pushed back today, saying Illinois faces harder challenges than when Govs. Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar were in office.
"I don't spend any time criticizing my fellow Republicans," Rauner told reporters today. "I do not spend any time criticizing decisions made in the past that created the mess that we're dealing with."
Rauner has been critical of the budget plans of previous Democratic administrations. But in recent days Edgar and Thompson both have said the state is in worse shape now than ever before.
"I agree that it's going to take some difficult negotiations to solve this," Thompson told the Daily Herald this week. "That's the responsibility of the governor and the legislature. They will have to do their jobs."
Rauner today mentioned the state's growing yearly payments into public pension, which have ballooned over the years, putting more pressure on spending plans. In the mid-1990s, Edgar signed a law that created the backloaded pension payment plan that's used today.
And Rauner argued the state's economy was healthier in 1999, making Illinois finances easier to manage.
"That math doesn't work," he said. "We cannot stay on the track we're on."
Democrats have blamed the ongoing Springfield budget fight on Rauner, who has insisted on approval of proposals they say hurt unions.
Rauner made the comments outside a Springfield diner. He had breakfast there to draw attention to the diner being a national finalist in a contest to find the best dish to use Thomas English muffins.