Rauner’s budget plan calls for deep spending cuts

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Illinois’ new Republican governor is calling for deep spending cuts to address a state budget billions in the red without raising taxes.

Bruce Rauner
Bruce Rauner

Gov. Bruce Rauner said during his first budget address Wednesday that Illinois has been living beyond its means.

He says lawmakers must be willing to make unpopular decisions to make up for a more than $6 billion budget hole next year.

Rauner’s address was short on details. But he said he wants to move state workers to a less-generous pension system that will save more than $2 billion. Workers hired before 2011 also could have the option of moving to a 401(k)-style plan. Police and firefighters could keep their current benefits.

He says Medicaid and other programs also will see painful cuts.

While calling for cuts elsewhere, Gov. Rauner wants a $300 million increase to K-12 school funding next year.

Rauner told lawmakers that he wants a 6.7 percent boost in general state aid, which is state funding which takes care of basic costs of educating students. A decrease in funding to higher education is also expected to offset the bump.

Rauner’s plans will be a tough sell in the Democrat-controlled Legislature. Many Democrats prefer to raise income tax rates that rolled back on Jan. 1 to avoid massive cuts.