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Rauner to discuss 'grand bargain' during budget address

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Gov. Bruce Rauner will use his budget address Wednesday to sound off on the so-called “grand bargain” being constructed in the state Senate.

Rauner has applauded Democratic leaders in the Senate for recognizing the need for economic reforms to grow the economy, but up to this point he’s been quiet on the substance of the 12 different bills being lumped together as a way to end the 19-month-long budget impasse.

During a live stream Tuesday, Rauner said he’ll break his silence on the plan during his annual budget address, which he will deliver at noon.

“I’ll share some of my own personal views about taxes, about regulations, about bringing down property taxes, about properly funding our schools,” Rauner said.

Rauner said he’s been reluctant to share his thoughts about the package as to not provide barriers to continued negotiations. He hopes that providing input will spur action.

“Maybe if I share some of my views and comments, I can help with the process and together we can bring it in for a good place and get a final deal done in the very near future,” he said.

The plan in the Senate includes tax increases, workers’ compensation reforms, local government consolidations, a budget bill and more.

The governor said Illinois must break the cycle of unbalanced budget after unbalanced budget.

Rauner said after combining the state’s unfunded pension liability, backlogged bills and other overspending, it’s obvious the state’s debt is out of control.

“Whether (the state debt is) $175 billion or $185 billion, and whether it goes up one or two billion dollars, more or less, because of a budget impasse, the core issue is the system is broken,” he said.

He said he’s gone back 30 years and can’t find a truly balanced budget.

“We are way in debt beyond anything that’s reasonable from years and years of overspending, deficits, borrowing and taxing,” he said.

Rauner said that cycle needs to be broken and cuts or tax increases alone won’t solve the problem. He said the solution is Illinois’ economy needs to grow faster than government spending.

To a question about higher education funding, Rauner encouraged the state’s universities to help cut overhead costs and keep money in classrooms. He said by doing that and putting more money into grants for eligible students, Illinois universities will “deliver great results for taxpayers.”

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