Illinois Opportunity Project Chief of Staff Mark Cavers released the following statement in response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Budget Address, delivered today:

“After seven months without a budget, there has been a frenzy of positioning by pundits and politicians against Governor Rauner. The fact is, Governor Rauner was elected on the promise of a “Turnaround,” because the old ways of doing business had left many behind. State budgets of the past had moved Illinois to last in the nation in nearly every economic indicator: public safety, education, job creation, population growth, infrastructure maintenance and bond rating.

In his Budget Address today, the governor re-stated his willingness to work across the aisle while he also demonstrated the courage to challenge powerful politicians and special interests – a bold and necessary step toward fixing problems long ignored. There is no joy in making difficult decisions and having tough conversations. But what choice is left? It is long past time to end lip-service and false promises and to begin solving our problems by enacting the economic and political reforms the governor referenced today.

Many of the governor’s political opponents – those who defend the state’s failed status quo – began messaging against the proposed reforms as soon as he left the chamber today. They expressed outrage over the lack of a state budget and claimed that their ideas could spare Illinoisans pain and sacrifice. We know this is simply not true.

The budget they demand he sign is, in fact, billions of dollars out of balance, and requires massive tax hikes on hardworking families and businesses. They propose this budget and corresponding tax increase knowing that the 2011 tax hike they passed – the largest in Illinois’ history – left us with a downgraded credit rating, an increased unfunded pension liability, and an additional $127 million in debt.

Though it may be difficult to see today, the change the governor promised when he was elected has begun. Illinoisans had the courage then to begin the turnaround of our great state. We must now have the fortitude to see it through; and have the vision to craft a sound and sustainable budget, as well as to build a better state – one that can grow once again.”

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