Evanston could see $3.75 million in cut funds from Rauner’s proposed budget


Daily file photo by Paige Leskin

Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks after defeating Pat Quinn in the gubernatorial election in November. The Rauner administration released Wednesday its first state budget that included steep cuts to services and benefits for public workers.

Stephanie Kelly, City Editor

Illinois Budget Crisis

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday proposed a budget that would cut in half a fund that distributes money to local governments such as Evanston.

Rauner’s proposed budget would cut the Local Government Distributive Fund in half and would cut an estimated $3.75 million from Evanston, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz said. The state fund is distributed throughout different villages and cities in Illinois.

“Like President Lincoln’s call to Congress, we too must think anew and act anew,” Rauner said in his speech to the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday. “We must be willing to take actions we would rather avoid and make decisions that may seem unpopular in the short run, but serve the best interests of the people of Illinois in the long run.”

Bobkiewicz said the city is concerned with the proposed budget. In the next couple of months, aldermen and city staff will monitor the situation, Bobkiewicz said. The finalized state budget is usually approved in the middle of the year.

If the budget passes with the proposed cuts, aldermen will have to decide how to reallocate their resources. Evanston’s 2015 budget passed Council on Nov. 24 at more than $257 million. If there are cuts, aldermen will have to discuss what actions to take, including whether to reduce spending or raise local taxes, Bobkiewicz said.

In past years, the state has not successfully shifted money away from the cities, Bobkiewicz said.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl released a statement Wednesday in response to the proposed cuts, saying she was disappointed by his proposal to reduce funds toward cities.

“Governor Rauner’s proposal is a tax increase,” Tisdahl said. “Instead of the State adjusting revenues, the Governor is forcing cities and villages to raise taxes to replace this needed revenue.”

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) also released a statement in which he said the proposed budget singles out working families, and not the wealthy. However, he also said he is optimistic about the state’s future.

“In order to work productively toward common goals, we must embrace the concepts of shared sacrifice and transparent and responsible budgeting on behalf of the people of Illinois,” he said.

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