Gov. Bruce Rauner answers questions from the press at his office in the State Capitol in Springfield on Feb. 23, 2017.
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Gov. Bruce Rauner defended his suggestions on how Senate lawmakers can alter their budget proposal to win his support, saying his ideas are “reasonable.”
The Republican governor offered up potential changes during his annual budget address last week, touting the evolving Senate proposal as a way to break the state’s unprecedented budget impasse. But some Democratic lawmakers criticized the move, saying it could derail sensitive talks.
They also raised concerns about a campaign video posted after Rauner’s speech touting “a grand bargain” to end the budget, accusing Rauner of trying to take credit for the work done by lawmakers.
On Thursday, Rauner took reporters’ questions for the first time since his budget speech, saying that in his address he was simply responding to requests from lawmakers, including Senate President John Cullerton, to lay out where he stands on the Senate’s efforts.
“President Cullerton in the media asked me to weigh in. Democrats and Republicans in private asked me to weigh in. That’s what I did. I honored their request. And if you listen to what I said, everything that I laid out was very reasonable, very reasonable,” Rauner said.
Rauner’s parameters include a permanent property tax freeze in exchange for a permanent income tax hike. The Senate plan currently calls for a two-year property tax freeze. The governor also wants a limit on spending and further changes to the workers compensation law for employees hurt on the job, as business groups say the Senate’s plan to curb workers’ compensation costs doesn’t go far enough.
“We should do these things, and they should in no way infringe on or hurt the ability to get a final deal,” said Rauner, who noted the House approved a permanent property tax freeze earlier this year.
But that vote came during the lame-duck session when there was no possibility the bill would be taken up by the Senate, a move designed to provide political cover to Democrats. Local schools and towns oppose a property tax freeze, saying it would hurt their ability to tap into money for day-to-day operations.
The Senate returns to Springfield next week, with Democratic and Republican leadership again pushing for swift action on their budget plan. With negotiations continuing behind the scenes, changes are expected, though it’s unclear how much influence Rauner will have on the bills lawmakers may be asked to vote on. (Monique Garcia)
What’s on tap
*Mayor Rahm Emanuel has no public events.
*Gov. Bruce Rauner will appear at a Black History Month event at the Thompson Center. Keynote speaker is U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman.
From the notebook
*Pritzker steps in it early: Potential Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker took to Twitter to step into the issue of transgender student rights and stepped into some controversy in the process.
Addressing Republican President Donald Trump’s rollback of transgender protections for children in public schools, Pritzker’s call for a restroom protest became an early hitch in a still-evolving campaign apparatus, based on the reaction it got.
“As a protest against Trump’s rescinding protections for trans kids, everyone should use the other gender’s bathroom today!” Pritzker tweeted from his official account at 7:36 a.m. Thursday.
The missive did draw a few supporters, but after receiving a larger number of critical responses, including from two Democratic state lawmakers, Pritzker sought to walk back his suggestion about three hours later.
“Was not being literal. But I think today and every day we should be standing up for all our kids. #ResistTrump,” Pritzker tweeted at 10:35 a.m.
Pritzker, a multibillionaire businessman and major Democratic donor, is eyeing a campaign for the right to take on Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner next year. Already, there are three announced Democratic candidates for the nomination: businessman Christopher Kennedy, Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar and Bob Daiber, the Madison County regional schools superintendent.
Among those responding to Pritzker’s earlier tweet was another potential Democratic candidate for governor, state Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston.
“No they shouldn’t,” Biss said of Pritzker’s calls to use bathrooms of the opposite sex. “But they should run for school board or support school board candidates who commit to supporting trans students.”
State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, also responded to Pritzker’s earlier tweet, saying, “No disrespect @JBPritzker but it’s actually about precisely *not* that. We just want to let kids use their own gender’s bathroom.”
Pritzker tweeted a response to Guzzardi: “Agreed. A protest is about standing with transgender kids and their right to be and live who they are.”
Guzzardi, however, tweeted back to Pritzker that “your idea suggests that we support ppl going into opposite-gender bathrooms, which plays right into transphobic rhetoric.” In another tweet to Pritzker, Guzzardi added, “I’m definitely not the authority on this, just trying to be thoughtful. Ask a trans friend!”