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Senate Dems Challenge Rauner Cabinet To Suggest Cuts

seal of the state of Illinois
Brian Mackey
/
NPR Illinois

Illinois senators are putting put Governor Bruce Rauner’s agency directors under the magnifying glass.

It’s part of the ongoing fallout from Rauner’s move to block the bipartisan "grand bargain” — meant to end Illinois’ 20-month budget stalemate.

Rauner pulled Republican votes off the grand bargain — he’s holding out for what he calls a "good deal for taxpayers." But without the bargain, the governor's own budget proposal has a $4.6 billion deficit.

In a series of hearings, Democrats put this math problem to Rauner’s agency heads.

Here’s Sen. Patricia Van Pelt of Chicago with Dr. Nirav Shah, of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

VAN PELT: "Can you tell me how you would reduce your budget by $22 million? If you can’t you just can’t."

SHAH: “Our proposed budget does not contain $22 million of cuts, so …"

VAN PELT: “Thank you."

Senate Democrats say there’s a reason Rauner was shut out of negotiations. They say they’ve been working on the deal for months, and have given up as much as they can.

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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