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Why Was Rauner Budget Proposal Greeted With Confusion?

Bruce Rauner
Rich Saal
The State Journal-Register/Pool
Gov. Bruce Rauner acknowledges Republican lawmakers before his Budget Address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017.

The Illinois House is set to return to Springfield this week. Meanwhile, policymakers are still puzzling through last week's budget proposal by Gov, Bruce Rauner, partly because his administration made a significant break with tradition in rolling it out.

The immediate reaction to the governor’s proposal included confusion. Typically, the top budget aides to the governor meet with their counterparts in the legislature before the big speech. But not the Rauner administration.

State Rep. Greg Harris, a Democrat from Chicago, says this is “unprecedented territory.”

“This is the way it has been done for 198 years of the 200 years of our state’s history," Harris said after the speech. "Only in the last two years has it ended up this way.”

This matters because if you were listening to Rauner's budget speech, you heard the governor assert his proposal was balanced. But now that the documents are publicly available, it’s clear there’s at least a $4.5 billion deficit.

A Rauner spokeswoman did not respond to an inquiry about why the administration decided not to brief legislators on the details of Rauner's budget proposal.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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