Rauner: 'I'll compromise on anything' to get spending plan passed
Not willing to give up on passing a set of pro-business, anti-union measures, Gov. Bruce Rauner has held the line for more than a year as Illinois has gone without a budget since last July.
But Thursday the Winnetka Republican said he was open to compromise on those measures -- if it means passing a spending plan sooner.
"I'm willing to compromise on anything. What we can't do is have phony reforms," Rauner said.
Rauner's comments came Thursday after he spoke at a conference of large school districts at Eaglewood Resort in Itasca, where he pledged to work toward an overhaul of the school funding formula and to provide more money to schools overall.
The comments came less than two days after lawmakers blew their annual budget deadline and left the state Capitol Tuesday with no agreed-upon plan to pay for schools or anything else.
Chicago Public Schools won't open in the fall if the state fails to approve an education budget over the summer, CPS officials said. Suburban districts -- including Elgin Area School District U-46, the largest district in the state outside Chicago -- have enough cash to open in August, but not enough to last more than a few months.
Rauner wants term limits for lawmakers, a property tax freeze, tightened workers' compensation laws and scaled-back union powers by establishing local "empowerment zones," which would allow municipalities to decide whether joining a union should be voluntary instead of a condition of employment.
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Chicago Democrats, say Rauner is putting schools, social services and other state programs in jeopardy by insisting on legislation they say hurts the middle class and union workers.
Rauner is pushing for a stopgap plan that would fund schools and some other services through January.
Suburban Republicans, including state Sen. Michael Connelly of Lisle, state Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove, and DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, flanked the governor, saying he should not give up on his reforms and blaming Democrats for the impasse at hand.
Lawmakers will be back next week. But because the session is now in overtime, they need a three-fifths vote to pass legislation.
Cronin thanked the governor for "sticking to his principles for a balanced budget." At the same time, he acknowledged: "We are in unchartered waters. DuPage County is floating millions to make sure programs keep running."