Sen. Steans Hearing to Target Rauner Good Friday Budget Cuts
This is a new post from The Illinois Observer.
(Chicago) – Senate Democrats have slated a hearing to grill Rauner Administration
officials over $26 million in budget cuts made on Good Friday.
State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) has scheduled an appropriations committee
hearing for next Tuesday in Chicago to question Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget
officials over their decision to suspend Fiscal Year 2015 contracts of multiple human
service and public health providers under the cover of Good Friday, contracts that
included money to bury deceased public aid recipients, autism care, immigrant integration
services, youth drug abuse prevention, epilepsy services, etc.
The governor’s decision sparked a protest rally at the James R. Thompson Center in
Chicago on Wednesday that drew hundreds of protesters and that was also attended by
lawmakers, such as House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and State
Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago).
“What the Governor did, as the clock ran out on the Friday before a holiday weekend, is
not just a slap in the face to the immigrant community after he stood with us earlier this
year and told us how important we are to Illinois,” said Lawrence Benito, CEO of Illinois
Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “It’s an affront to the millions of Illinoisans
who rely on these investments in order to pursue self-sufficiency.”
Rauner, who attended immigration rights group’s January 31 summit and pledged his
“commitment” to immigrant leaders, suspended $3.4 million for state immigration
Lang also criticized Rauner saying that lawmakers feel “deceived” by the governor’s
“Governor Rauner’s failure to be transparent with lawmakers on his planned budget cuts
after we had a deal has now bred mistrust,” said Lang. “Requests for budget details
have been ignored, and the governor’s decision to sneak out budget cuts over the cover
of Passover and Easter has left legislators and providers feeling deceived.”
A Rauner GOP legislative ally also expressed “surprise” at the governor’s budget cuts,
thinking that the recent FY 2015 budget fix by lawmakers that had swept $1.3 billion
from special state funds and that had cut 2.25% across the board blunted the need for
further budget cuts.
“I was under the impression that action would stabilize things through the end of the
fiscal year,” said State Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington). “I was not anticipating having
this type of situation. I’m confused over it. I’m confused and surprised.”
The governor started on Monday a week-long, statewide tour of 17 Illinois counties to
promote his “turnaround agenda”, but the controversy over the Good Friday cuts
overshadowed the start of the governor’s campaign-style trip, prompting him to
backtrack a bit on the contract suspensions and saying that some suspensions could
be reversed within “days”.
Meanwhile, Steans has also been on a statewide tour holding committee hearings on
Rauner’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget cuts, taking testimony from both mayors,
university officials, and human service providers on the potential impact of the
governor’s plan to cut $6 billion from next year’s budget, reducing the state’s annual
expenditures from $38 billion to $32 billion.
Steans’ Tuesday hearing will be held in Bilandic Building in Chicago and begins at
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