State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, issued the following statement Wednesday:
“Rather than working with both parties to prevent a potential government shutdown, Governor Rauner continues to play games with the budget and threaten the economic security of Illinois’ middle-class families.
“House Democrats have introduced legislation that appropriates funds to cover state employee salaries for the remainder of this fiscal year. It’s our hope that this would give the governor time to step back from the edge of a catastrophe, drop his corporate agenda, and return to the negotiating table to craft a full-year budget. Instead, he has chosen to use state employees and their families as leverage to further empower himself.
“Since he first began campaigning, Governor Rauner’s stated agenda has been to ‘shut things down’ in order to pass his corporate agenda. The governor’s agenda of creating chaos and disrupting services was clear when he vetoed House Democrats’ legislation that would avert a government shutdown by preventing state workers from striking, and it’s clear now as he blocks our efforts to ensure state employees are paid.
“The governor’s proposal gives his office sole and exclusive, unilateral authority over how much to pay, who to pay and what to pay in every agency of state government, whether they are under his control or not. House Democrats feel it’s not only dangerous to give this power to a governor who has made no secret of his belief that nurses, teachers and police officers are overpaid, but a blatant violation of the separation of powers. Not only does the governor’s legislation hand him a blank check to overspend taxpayer dollars as much as he wishes, it would give him the authority to dictate the payrolls of other duly elected constitutional officers.
“House Democrats are committed to ensuring state workers are paid for the services they provide in order to prevent a government shutdown. We are also committed to our constitutional system of separated powers, and determined to provide accountability to all taxpayers.”