Top Republican lawmakers say the governor’s budget speech showed lack of leadership.   House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) says the governor didn’t lay out many specifics, instead opting to defer pension and Medicaid restructuring to work groups.   “He’s the governor. He’s the leader,” Cross says. “Are you for having employees pay a little more? Are you for cost shifting? Are you for addressing a [cost of living adjustment] issue? He says they’re all on the table but what does he want? This is not new stuff.”


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The governor outlined a lot of cuts in Wednesday’s budget address, but also proposed new spending in early childhood education and beefing up the Monetary Award Program (MAP). Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) says while these are noble goals, there’s no way they’ll approve the increases.   “We cannot increase spending. Period, the end,” she says. “Those things ought to be off the table. We need to focus on the big issues at hand. Once those are solved, we can look at other things that need to be done within state government.”


Top Democrats, predictably, had the opposite view. Both House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) say the governor laid out a strong message with the underlying theme that serious cuts and reforms must happen this year.   “I think he gave a good speech,” says Madigan. “He delivered a good, tough message. These are tough times and it’s going to require tough leadership.”


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