Rauner gets GOP support after former governors' criticisms
Some Republican lawmakers meeting at the state Capitol defended Gov. Bruce Rauner from critical comments that have come from two respected party leaders, former Govs. Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar.
Thompson told the Daily Herald Monday "this is the worst position the state of Illinois has ever been in."
"I agree that it's going to take some difficult negotiations to solve this," Thompson said. "That's the responsibility of the governor and the legislature. They will have to do their jobs."
State Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, is among those discounting the criticism as the legislature met Tuesday but made no progress on solving a four-month budget standoff.
"Everybody here has run recently. Everybody here sort of has their ear to the ground. And everybody here wants to solve these issues. But at least on the Republican side, we know we can't keep doing things the way we've done them," Murphy said.
Democratic leaders and Rauner continue to feud publicly about whether Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda" should be considered before a budget is completed. Republicans say Rauner earned the chance to call for big changes by his statewide election, and Democrats argue anti-union plans shouldn't be tied to state spending.
Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan said Rauner's continued push for his agenda helped lead to the state's most recent credit downgrade.
"The lack of a resolution on the state budget and today's downgrade are direct results of the governor's continued focus on issues other than solving our budget crisis," he said in a statement.
Rauner held an hourlong meeting with House Republicans Tuesday and emerged without answering reporters' question about Thompson and Edgar, smiling and walking into a Capitol elevator.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs steered blame toward Madigan, who helped send Rauner a budget in the spring.
Rauner "has been in office for a little over nine months," Durkin said. "The fact is he is not the one that prepared a $4 billion unbalanced budget."
Before Thompson, Edgar told the The (Springfield) State Journal Register that "state government's probably in the worst state it's been in the 47 years that I've been around (it)." Rauner shouldn't "hold the budget hostage," Edgar said.
State Rep. Mike Tryon, a Crystal Lake Republican, said times are different.
"This is a way different time for Illinois than it was when Gov. Edgar and Gov. Thompson were governor," he said. "There's more at stake than they were faced with because we've had 12 years of unbalanced budgets and huge debt accumulation."