Welch, primary opponent Harris speak out after budget address
House District 7 candidate Chris Harris, a Democrat from Forest Park, was happy to hear Gov. Bruce Rauner emphasize the importance of programs such as child care during his fiscal year 2017 budget address on Wednesday.
"I appreciate that the governor is acknowledging not just desire but need for programs like the Child Care Assistance Program to be saved in the wake of the budget crisis,” Harris said. “I heard some of what President (Barack) Obama spoke about last week being echoed, but we need more than big talk. We need big action."
Illinois has been operating without a budget since Rauner vetoed a spending plan sent to him by the Democrat-controlled legislature last July, resulting in deep cuts to many services across the state.
During his address, Rauner encouraged lawmakers to work together to make “real reform” that will create jobs and save taxpayers, stating that he is working on behalf of people who see workers in surrounding states paying less taxes and earning better pay than Illinoisans.
“I’m fighting for those middle-class families every single day,” Rauner said.
The governor also said he believes the state’s priority should be on the next generation, not the next election, and that an unbalanced budget would put “everything on the table” for spending cuts except funding for early childhood education and general aid to schools.
Harris said he was also glad to hear an emphasis on education funding where equality is desperately needed.
“We need to think bigger than that, as we need to invest in our communities and people so there are opportunities for them post-graduation," Harris said. “But the reality is we need independent thinking people in Springfield to get things done. We've turned politics into blood sport, and have leaders who are more concerned with preserving their power and position versus getting things done to best benefit Illinois. I want to change that."
State Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside) said in a statement following the address that solving the budget crisis so services can be restored is the highest priority.
"While I appreciated the governor's remarks and understand the need to make additional reforms that will help Illinois become more competitive and promote economic growth, this cannot be done on the backs of working men and women across our state,” Welch said.
Welch also said the financial crisis in Illinois is unprecedented.
“No other governor in recent history has held a budget, and the people of Illinois, hostage to his demands for the passage of an extreme agenda, which has very little legislative support," Welch said. "I truly hope Gov. Rauner takes President Obama's remarks from last week seriously by deciding to compromise and negotiating with Democrats in good faith to craft a responsible budget."