CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is suspending some tax credits, closing state museums, and ending the state's consideration of the controversial Illiana Corridor toll road to achieve savings in the absence of a fiscal 2016 budget agreement with the General Assembly's Democratic leaders.
The measures mark initial steps aimed at saving $400 million, the Rauner administration said in a statement. Other initiatives will begin July 1 if no agreement is reached.
The freshman Republican's announcement escalates tensions between the governor's office and the legislative leaders, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, though all have said they are willing to negotiate with the aim of reaching a compromise.
Rauner said the cost-cutting maneuvers are needed in response to the $36 billion budget Democratic lawmakers passed over the weekend. That's $4 billion more than the $32 billion Rauner proposed and at least $3 billion beyond revenue projections for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
"This latest broken Madigan-Cullerton budget comes on the heels of a Fiscal Year 2015 Madigan-Cullerton budget that was more than $1.5 billion out-of-balance when it was passed," Rauner's statement said.
The governor and lawmakers erased the $1.5 billion of fiscal 2015 red ink through modest cuts and dipping into surpluses in non-general fund accounts.
"Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton and the politicians they control refuse to act responsibly and reform state government," Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said. "It is time they come to the table with Governor Rauner to turn around Illinois."
Cullerton fired back.
"The plan passed by the General Assembly is a statement of our priorities to provide vital services and invest in the middle class. If the governor shares that goal, then he is invited to work with us to develop a full plan to fund our shared priorities in education, public safety and community services," his statement said. "Unfortunately, today's actions signal that the governor would rather slash child care, services for troubled youth and senior care rather than work on a bipartisan budget solution."
The statement noted that Rauner has not scheduled any new meetings with leaders since one held last Friday ahead of the Sunday close of the regular spring session.
Rauner proposed deep cuts to eliminate a $6 billion deficit in next year's budget and has tied his support for any tax or revenue increase proposals to Democratic support for a scaled-down version of his turnaround agenda, including a local property tax freeze, caps on civil judgments, worker's compensation reforms and constitutional amendments on term limits and redistricting.
Democrats rejected many of those proposals during committee hearings and passed their own budget plan before adjourning while saying they are willing to negotiate. They have not yet sent the budget to Rauner.
The measures being taken by the administration include a suspension of all future incentive offers to companies for business attraction and retention, including EDGE Tax Credits, Large Business Attraction Grants, and Employer Training Investment Program Incentive Grants. Approval of film tax credits and High Impact Business designations will be deferred.
All vehicle purchases by the Illinois State Police will be frozen.
The Department of Transportation will remove the proposed public-private Illiana project from its multi-year plan. "In light of the state's current fiscal crisis and a lack of sufficient capital resources, the Illiana Expressway will not move forward at this time," the statement says. The state will begin the process of suspending all existing project contracts and procurements. Rauner had not yet said whether he would continue planning for the project, which was launched by his predecessor Pat Quinn in cooperation with Indiana.
Beginning July 1, the state will ground all state plane passenger service with the exception of emergency services. The state also will identify one or two juvenile correctional facilities to close. The state will provide notice of the July 1 suspension of the State Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program although the federally subsidized portion would continue.
Officials also will launch an audit review of nursing home reimbursements and file emergency rules to enact means testing to the state's Community Care Program for seniors. The Department of Human Services will increase co-pays for parents using its childcare program and freeze intake.
No Open Space Land Acquisition Development Grants will be awarded and the state will begin suspending operations and close the five state museums to visitors.
Rating agency analysts and investors are watching closely to see how the state resolves its budget mess. Illinois is the lowest rated state at the low-single-A level. Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Service assign the state a negative outlook and Standard & Poor's put the state's general obligation rating on negative watch after the Illinois Supreme Court's May 8 ruling nixing the state's 2013 pension reforms.