Recorded on June 10, 2017
The forty-second governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, joins Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge to discuss Illinois’s budget crisis. With the end of the fiscal year deadline (June 30) looming ever closer Governor Rauner and House majority Democrats will have to come to an agreement to get the budget passed and prevent Illinois’s bond rating from being downgraded to junk, causing Illinois to lose investment-grade status. Peter Robinson and Governor Rauner discuss this financial crisis and Rauner’s goals for the budget. He insists that no budget will be passed unless it is a balanced budget that includes, but is not limited to, term limits, consolidating the government, and pension reform.
Governor Rauner talks about why he chose to enter politics after a successful business career and how he plans on fixing the state that is his home. He details out how Illinois has historically dealt with thirty-five years of deficits and how it ended up in the current financial mess. He also discusses the difficult opposition he's facing with a Democrat-controlled state legislature. The GOP governor and the Democrat-controlled legislature have reached an impasse several times during his tenure as governor, as he refuses to pass a budget that will increase the deficit further than in 2015 and 2016.
Background on the Illinois Budget Crisis: Illinois has been operating without a budget for two years now, as the state legislature has been unable to pass a budget up that will not increase the deficit and also satisfy the requirements of Governor Rauner. The Illinois legislature has managed to keep the state running through temporary stopgap measures, but as the state’s debts continue to rise to more than $150 billion, stopgap measures and the lack of budget will no longer be able to keep the state running. Illinois has been plagued with financial issues during the last several years, even being unable to provide lottery winners with their winnings. The state has been running a deficit for thirty-five years now. If a new budget isn’t passed by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, the Illinois bond rating will be downgraded even more than it already has, and Illinois stands to lose millions of dollars in federal funding. To pass a new budget, the plan will have to be passed by a three-fifths majority vote in the Illinois House. As it stands, if Illinois’s bond rating is downgraded, Illinois will be the first state since 1970 to lose investment-grade status.