Ear Hustle

Governor Of Illinois Threatens To Improve State Budget By Cutting Policing, Disable Free Rides And More

Bruce Rauner

Photo Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast

Gov. Bruce Rauner threatened Friday a further $420 million in state cuts — including cuts to training Chicago firefighters, to rides for the disabled and elderly in Cook County, and to south suburban policing — if the Legislature can’t agree to a budget by July 1.

Designed to help fill what Rauner describes as a $4 billion budget hole, the threatened cuts come on top of $400 million in proposed cuts that Rauner threatened earlier this month, and are an attempt to pressure Democrats into passing reforms that the governor says Illinois needs to be competitive.

Democrats last month approved a spending plan that’s at least $3 billion short of revenue. They want Rauner to approve new taxes, but the governor has said he won’t sign their plan without further concessions.

“Governor Rauner has compromised repeatedly, but Speaker [Michael] Madigan and the politicians he controls continue to block any real reform,” Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said. “It’s deeply troubling to see that Speaker Madigan remains committed to sacrificing the middle class in order to protect the political class.”

Released Friday afternoon, Rauner’s latest round of proposed cuts includes the suspension of capital projects, including construction at state facilities, schools and colleges. Funding would be suspended for the Choose Chicago program for tourism promotion — which Rauner resigned as chairman of in 2013. And the Chicago Fire Department would lose funding for its training program.

Legislative earmarks for the South Suburban Major Crimes Taskforce also would be suspended.

A state payment to Pace for driving wheelchair passengers in Cook and the other collar counties would be suspended, as well as a payment to the Regional Transportation Authority for reduced fares for senior citizens, military veterans, Medicare recipients and people with disabilities on Pace, Metra and the CTA.

Business cuts include reduced funding for job training and the suspension of funding for all coal programs at the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Illinois State Police would see cuts in its forensic equipment program, which would save the state $2 million. The department said in a statement that it would  “explore efficiencies to avoid delays in processing forensic evidence.” It called the cut “necessary.”

But Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s spokesman Ben Breit said the cuts to the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force, in particular, would bite. With that proposed cut, Breit said, “Governor Bruce Rauner is saying that the people of the south suburbs, who already suffer through a disproportionate degree of substandard policing and violent crime, are less worthy of justice than the rest of us.”

Read more At Chicago Sun Times

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