Lake County News-Sun - Feb. 18, 2015

By Jim Newton

Indications in Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget address Wednesday that his proposal would include major cutbacks to municipal funding drew quick and harsh reactions from several Lake County leaders.

"Instead of fixing the state, he's coming after local governments," Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said Wednesday afternoon. "I'm not happy at all. Gurnee has its house in order — we have a AAA bond rating, no local property tax and exceptional services. I don't know why he's decided to pick on us."

Rauner's budget, Kovarik said, would force Gurnee to consider cutting staff, resulting in service declines and a possible increase in emergency response time.

"I was very hopeful about the new governor. I'm so disappointed," she said. "He's ignoring everything at the state level and coming after the local guys."

State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, said she expected a backlash from municipalities when she heard Rauner planned to ask for a 50 percent reduction in the Local Government Distribution Fund, which collects money from several sources and is redistributed back to local governments.

"It could cause property taxes to go up. If you're getting less from the state, then you have to cut services," Bush said. "He's talking about cutting these funds in half from last year."

Bush also expressed concerns about potential cuts to "the working poor and mentally ill people, those who don't have a voice."

"I was hoping to hear something more like the (former Republican Gov.) Jim Edgar style of speech, more holistic," Bush added. "This was just about cuts."

State Sen. Julie Morrison, D-29, of Deerfield, said some aspects of the governor's budget plan are "simply unacceptable."

"I know Illinois is experiencing a budget crisis, but DCFS has been underfunded for years," she said. I'm gravely disappointed Gov. Rauner did not make abused and neglected children a higher priority. Cutting the agency's budget by more than 10 percent is simply unacceptable."

Bush said she doesn't see anything in the governor's plan that would require contributions from the wealthy, middle class or blue-collar workers.

"Everybody knows there is trouble (with the state's financial condition)," Bush said. "I don't disagree with that. But we have to meet in the middle."

Read the original story.

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