Governor Bruce Rauner has learned his lesson trying to attach radical, non-budget policy to the state’s budget, former Republican Governor Jim Edgar suggested in recent comments noting refusal of rank and file lawmakers to go along with Rauner’s demands.
“We saw legislators, rank-and-file, convince their leaders (that) we need to do a budget,” Edgar said of the two-year impasse instigated by Rauner. “They did it. And to me, and I don’t want to sound partisan here, but I thought the 10 Republicans who crossed party lines, went against their caucus and had the wrath of their governor on them, were definitely profiles in courage.”
In total, ten House Republicans joined to create a legislative supermajority to enact the budget over Rauner’s veto. The bipartisan coalition ultimately decided the Governor’s agenda – which would have pushed the state into a third consecutive year without a budget – would do further irreparable damage to the state’s finances and institutions.
Rauner’s demands included big ideas, like pension reform, right-to-work union-busting policies, term limits, and smaller items, like reforming the state’s gas tax, allowing municipalities to declare bankruptcy, and reforming the state’s guidelines for lawsuits.
The agenda was met unprecedented resistance, with protests erupting across the state and in the halls of the General Assembly. In particular, Rauner’s so-called right to work legislation was a non-starter and received zero votes in the State House. None of his agenda items were passed into law.