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Cullerton: GOP hopefuls must level with voters on budget plans

With Illinois’ primary election less than a week away, state Senate President John Cullerton said Thursday that if the four Republican candidates for governor have a “secret plan” to fill the state’s $3 billion budget hole, they need to lay it out on the table.

Cullerton, speaking to a breakfast gathering at downtown’s Union League Club of Chicago, said it is “very frustrating” to hear the Republicans suggest cuts to Medicaid as a possible solution, when the Legislature has already made those painful cuts.

“We didn’t leave a lot on the table,” Cullerton said, speaking to reporters after the speech. “If we did, tell us what they are.”

Asked what he thought of front-runner candidate Bruce Rauner’s claim that he’d bypass the Democratic-controlled General Assembly to get work done, Cullerton said: “Mr. Rauner should read the Illinois Constitution as to what powers are for the governor in terms of executive orders; they’re somewhat limited. He’s probably not aware of that.”

Cullerton offered a largely upbeat picture for the state’s future, telling his audience that it’s “time to end the Illinois bashing.”

He said the state could do better at job creation, but he said Illinois is far healthier than often portrayed.

“I just don’t think disparaging our state solves problems,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.”