Governor Rauner said a lot during his budget address last week, but unfortunately not all of it was true. Here are the facts on five of the many misleading statements the governor made.

Rauner Claim #1: “It’s why we’ve been working for two years to pass a truly balanced budget, to create equal access to strong schools and good jobs.” ? FACT: The governor’s two previous budget proposals weren’t balanced. The budget he proposed this year is also unbalanced.

Rauner Claim # 2: “When it comes to higher education, we understand the hardship being felt by students who rely on state assistance to go to college. That’s why we’re proposing a 10 percent increase to MAP Grant funding – so those students can focus on learning, and not their next tuition bill.”

? FACT: MAP grants, college grants for needy students, aren’t receiving state funding now. Public universities are also going without state aid. The governor recommended funding higher education at the level it was a few years ago, but his administration has failed to introduce legislation to do this.
Rauner Claim # 3: “We recognize the growing danger of opioid abuse across our state.” ?

FACT: Every year, Governor Rauner’s introduced budget proposed reducing funding for addiction prevention services.

Rauner Claim #4: “We know the challenges facing human services … that is why our proposal increases support for Child Care and other programs that assist children, senior citizens, and our other most vulnerable residents.” ?

FACT: Governor Rauner has called every year for eliminating funding for afterschool programs for at-risk youth, homeless prevention services and programs that help autistic children.

Rauner Claim # 5: “Job creators and relocation firms tell us that rooting out fraud and abuse from the worker’s compensation system and getting highest-in-the-country property taxes under control are two of the most important ways to make Illinois more competitive. Very high workers’ comp insurance costs in the private sector continue to drive businesses out of state – and in the public sector, they contribute to higher property taxes.  Changes are necessary to attract employers and create new jobs.” ? FACT: The General Assembly approved workers compensation reforms in 2011 to improve our business climate by reducing employer costs while preserving workers’ rights. An article published by the Illinois State Bar Association called the new laws the “broadest reform to Illinois workers’ compensation law since 1975.” The reforms resulted in declining costs to employers.

Raoul headshot 2015 webState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement today in response to Governor Rauner’s budget address:

Today, Governor Rauner said he proposed a budget, but I looked all around the Capitol, and I couldn’t find it. The governor instead continued to undermine the Senate’s bipartisan efforts and once again failed to fulfill his constitutional obligation to present a balanced budget.

During his address, Governor Rauner presented a laundry list of goals with no details on how to pay for them. He suggested that he knows what job creators want. I can tell you that what they want most is the stability that comes from paying our bills on time. Before Governor Rauner took office, we had made great progress in paying down our backlog. Now, we have accrued more than $11 billion in unpaid bills. The only difference between then and now is who is in the governor’s mansion.

I continue to be proud of my colleagues in the Senate, particularly President Cullerton and Leader Radogno, for working tirelessly to propose a budget that will finally offer relief to the people who have been suffering for nearly two years as essential services and providers are stretched to the limit. Although the governor did not do his job today, we will continue to push for a solution that provides for the people of Illinois.

02082017CM0048 rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement on the Senate’s vote on parts of the grand bargain budget deal:

"I am disappointed that Senate Republicans refused today to support elements of the grand bargain budget deal – parts that they requested and have supported in the past. During the debate, many Republican senators referred to these pieces of legislation as “easy,” and yet they failed to vote for them. If they are not willing to act on the low-hanging fruit of this overall negotiation, they are clearly not motivated to deal with the unprecedented and unacceptable budget impasse.

I do believe many of my Republican colleagues wanted to vote in favor of these measures, but they were undermined by the governor’s office and members of the far right, who are sabotaging work towards a compromise that will allow us to create the stability our state needs."

Senator Raoul speaks about the budget deal on Chicago TonightWith the Senate hoping to pass the so-called “grand bargain” budget deal when session resumes next week, Senator Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, and Senator Heather Steans, D-Chicago, appeared on “Chicago Tonight” to talk about the ongoing negotiations.

Raoul and Steans spoke alongside Republican senators Chris Nybo, R-Lombard, and Karen McConnaughay, R-West Dundee, about the bipartisan effort to pass a budget after a 20-month stalemate.

“I commend the leadership in our chamber for setting aside the partisanship that has plagued us for the last two years,” Raoul said. “For this to be successful, there has to be bipartisan cooperation.”

The host asked the senators which parts of the budget deal were essential to them in order for it to pass.

“I need to see that we pay our bills on time, as we did before this governor took the helm,” Raoul said. “We had paid our cycle down to 30 days, so I need to see us pay our bills on time and create some stability.”

Steans emphasized that, although different senators focus on different portions of the legislative package, she is optimistic because they all care about serving the citizens of Illinois.

“What’s going to make this happen is that each one of us here…and many of our colleagues…believe that we have to put the interest of the people of Illinois first,” she said.

Watch the full segment here: http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2017/02/01/senate-negotiations-grand-bargain-budget-continue

Raoul ILBC presser rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement today in response to Governor Rauner’s State of the State address:

While I appreciate the governor calling attention to some serious issues within our criminal justice system, we need to recognize that real change will only come about if we invest in our neighborhoods. I recently passed legislation in the Senate that offers comprehensive trauma recovery services in communities with high levels of violent crime. If Governor Rauner is serious about ending the cycle of violence, I hope he will approve this measure.

Additionally, the governor has let another year go by without a plan to provide state services to people with disabilities, mental health issues or addiction. Every day without a budget is a day that some of our most vulnerable citizens lack access to the help they need.

As we reflect on the state of our state, we must recognize how much worse our financial situation has become under Governor Rauner’s leadership. Before the governor took office, we had paid down our backlog to a 30-day cycle. We now have an unprecedented $11 billion in unpaid bills. It is not hard to see that the difference between then and now is who is sitting in the governor’s office.

We must make it a priority in the coming days and weeks to end this stalemate. I am ready to work with anyone who comes to the table with real solutions and a willingness to compromise.

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State Sen. Kwame Raoul new 'it guy' in Springfield

Chicago Tribune

For more than a year after he was appointed to fill then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's seat in the Illinois Senate, Kwame Raoul did all he could to avoid contact with his predecessor.
He would not call Obama for advice unless he absolutely had to. He skipped public appearances where the two might run into each other or, worse, be photographed together.
"I had a sense early on that people, probably including Barack, were concerned about whether I was trying to coattail on his success," Raoul said. "And I was really sensitive about that."
Nearly seven years later, Raoul finds himself the new "it guy" in Springfield. He has led high-profile Democratic pushes to ban the death penalty, reform pensions, overhaul the state's workers' compensation system and redraw legislative boundaries.
Even some Republicans want a piece of him. House Republican Leader Tom Cross appeared with Raoul last month to promote legislation that would require schools to adopt policies regarding concussions and head injuries for athletes.
"People think I am crazy," said Raoul of his workload, which he says sent him to the hospital twice in the last year with stress-related heart arrhythmia. "I don't want to just be down there saying, 'I'm a senator.'"
The 46-year-old son of Haitian immigrants first became interested in politics while an undergrad at DePaul University during the Council Wars in the 1980s. After Mayor Harold Washington's unexpected death, Raoul joined thousands of protesters outside City Hall as aldermen held a tumultuous meeting that eventually saw Eugene Sawyer chosen as mayor.
Raoul, who wanted then-Ald. Timothy Evans as mayor, wound up being hours late for his job as a bill collector so he could pass out "No Deals" signs at the rally.
"I subsequently got fired from a job I wasn't very good at and didn't like, but I remember going home and watching the council proceedings and thinking, 'Wow, we've got to do better than this.'"
Raoul twice ran and lost for alderman against Toni Preckwinkle, who's now the Cook County Board president. She eventually became an ally and backed him for Obama's state Senate seat in 2004 — against Obama's wishes at the time.
Raoul has a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law and a year ago went to work in the Chicago office of Michigan-based Miller Canfield. The firm, which also employs Paul Durbin, son of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is serving as an underwriters' counsel on a $3.5 billion bond sale the state issued in January 2010.
Raoul said he's never made any calls to help the firm secure state business and voted present Wednesday on a bill that would provide tax credits for Continental Tire, which he said the firm represents. The bill passed.
"I try to be careful and make sure the firm isn't doing anything that could get me in trouble," said Raoul, who added that he is learning about municipal financing so he can help towns and cities with bond deals.
Raoul's signature achievement was pushing through a death penalty ban that few expected to pass.
"I was very surprised when he told me he had enough votes," said Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. "And that's because it was a very individual, personal type of vote. Those type of bills come along once in a career."
For now, Raoul said he plans to run for his Senate seat next year.
"There's a lot of room out there to serve. I don't want to be one of those people that is trying to hold on to power beyond my time," said Raoul, who added he's not worried if he loses. "For me there's enough stress, there's enough time away from my kids and family."