The governor’s preferred path for the coming fiscal year is to pass reforms to grow the economy. If that doesn’t happen, Plan B would allow for the governor to unilaterally cut from some areas and sweep funds to make up any shortfall.

During a Senate Executive Committee hearing Wednesday, senators debated details about the so-called Unbalanced Budget Response Act.

Democrats raised concerns about several provisions, including allowing the governor to cut higher education and other areas while holding the Road Fund and primary and secondary education funding safe.

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Republican Sen. Christine Radogno said Republicans are willing to modify the measure, but something has to be done to find reforms and grow the economy.

“We’ve got to come together or this is the only path we have,” Radogno said, “because there is not money to write those checks.”

Groups representing public transit, municipalities and hospitals decried the measure as a precursor to reduced services or increased rates in their sectors.

Members of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s staff said they’re ready to negotiate on a compromise to pass a balanced budget with reforms they say will grow the economy as Plan A to avoid the unpopular Plan B.

Democratic state Sen. Kimberly Lightford said the compromise should include both new revenues and reforms.

“So while you want reforms, you need to also be putting revenue on the table,” Lightford said “and I have not heard any revenue ideas from no one.”

Members of the governor’s staff said the measure would be necessary only if talks on a balanced budget and proposed reforms break down.

The state’s next fiscal year begins July 1. Illinois has lurched along for more than eight months of the current fiscal year without a full budget in place.

Rauner provided the two options to lawmakers during his budget address last month, saying he would rather foster economic growth through reforms than usher in severe cuts and fund sweeps.


(Copyright WBGZ / )