Dems question legality of Rauner “turnaround agenda”

SPRINGFIELD — Managing the budget and passing the governor’s so-called “turnaround agenda” shouldn’t be linked, according to Democratic lawmakers, because that agenda won’t save the state money in the next fiscal year.

Gov. Bruce V. Rauner has outlined $400 million in cuts and changes to business tax credits, heating assistance for low-income families, and other programs, blaming a Democrat-supported budget which is out $4 billion out of balance.

Another part of the governor’s office’s justification for the moves is “because the budget contains no reforms” from his legislative agenda.

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) says outside of a pension reform proposal which has never been filed as a bill, the governor hasn’t explained how his agenda will result in savings for next year’s budget.

She says it doesn’t appear to her that any of the items on Rauner’s turnaround agenda are designed to have an immediate impact on the state budget.

According to Nekritz, the governor’s pension reform plan accounted for $2.2 billion in savings in his budget proposal, but many lawmakers, including Nekritz, considered the move misguided at best, since it was likely any pension change would be held up in the courts for years.

Nekritz says Rauner’s plans “befuddle” her, considering lawmakers will soon be returning to Springfield to try and settle the budget battle.

There’s even the question of whether some of Rauner’s budget moves are legal.

State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) asks if Rauner is violating consent decrees by closing prisons and if he can change the way seniors are looked at by the law so the state can stop assisting seniors so they can stay at home and stay in their community.