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Dems call on Rauner for ‘leadership’; GOP says: Pass his reforms

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s leadership came under attack on Wednesday by Senate Democrats who said they felt compelled to pass a piecemeal budget to fund critical state services.

Senate Republicans hit back, telling Democrats to pass Rauner’s reform package, and the budget stalemate would be settled.

The argument unfolded as the state Senate debated passing measures that provided critical services but necessitate a funding stream not available as the state is without a budget.

Earlier in the day, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger said the state doesn’t have the funds to back up spending that courts are ordering the state to pay up.

The Senate advanced SB2046, which would pump $1.8 billion to human services like Early Intervention, which has not received payments since July 1. The chamber also voted to override Rauner’s veto of funding for heroin addiction treatment.

“Governor, I hope you’re listening. It’s time to bring the four caucuses together and sit down and have a discussion about this budget. It’s gone on too long,” state Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, said as applause built in the chamber. “Show some leadership. Bring them down, sit down and let’s work this out.”

State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, called the Democrats’ actions “Groundhog Day,” saying they were looking to spend another almost $2 billion the state didn’t have without instituting reforms.

“The only thing that can explain this action in my mind right now, there’s pressure building in your districts and people want to see that you’re actually doing something,” Murphy said. “Just appropriating money that isn’t there, it isn’t giving comfort to people, it’s leading them down a path because somebody isn’t going to get the money.”

Murphy said the governor still stood ready to bring in new revenue but not without his reforms.

Other Democrats said it was hypocritical for the governor to keep state fairs functioning while not covering costs of programs such as Early Intervention.