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Illinois Governor accused of following Trump playbook

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner dismissed as “goofy” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel comparing the governor to Donald Trump.

At the end of a two-day sweep of downstate Illinois, in the wake of the failure of the state to pass a budget for the second year running, Rauner described the mayor’s intervention as “not helpful.”

“We’ve got to focus on the facts and what’s constructive,” he said Thursday as he ended a speaking tour described by critics as an attempt to divide the state, between Chicago and downstate counties.

In a statement Thursday, Emanuel said the governor, instead of uniting, was dividing. 

“Instead of leading he was playing politics, pitting parents and students in one part of the state against parents and students in another,”  Emanuel said, adding that Rauner was “following the Donald Trump playbook of demonizing one group of people for his political advantage."

The statement followed comments made by Rauner Wednesday, when he urged “folks ... in Champaign County and in Sangamon County and throughout the state to stand up and vote for their districts, not for Speaker (Michael) Madigan and (Senate President) John Cullerton and the Chicago political machine that they are loyal to.”

At the end of his tour, in Itasca, Rauner told reporters he cares “very much” about Chicago, adding that he is  “a property owner and a big taxpayer” in the city.

The sparring follows the passing of the May 31 deadline without a budget for the coming fiscal year. No budget was passed for the year ending June 30, 2016.

Many schools may not open in the fall if a budget is not passed and there is no funding available from July. Already, services across the state have been squeezed by the long-running budget impasse.

The continuing, deeply fractious, row over the budget pits, at least politically, Rauner and Republican legislators in the General Assembly against Madigan, Cullerton and most of the Democrats.

Rauner is adamant that elements of his “turnaround agenda,” including changes to collective bargaining rules for municipal employees and other measures to make the state more employer-friendly, be included in any budget. Democrats reject the agenda and insist they are non-budget items.

Rauner did float this week an idea for a stand-alone bill to fund education and vital services, likely leaving the question of an overall budget until after the November elections. Crucially, he did not link this stand-alone measure to his turnaround agenda.

In a widely circulated memo, Tim Nuding, director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, said it is an “option of last resort.”

“The General Assembly should fulfill the Governor’s long-standing request to pass a stand-alone appropriations bill for PK-12 education and also pass a fiscally responsible appropriations bill that serves as a bridge to keep government functioning and protects the public’s health, welfare and safety,” the memo read.

“This proposal is not designed as a full-year budget,” Nuding wrote. “It is designed as a bridge plan that allows schools to open, keeps the lights on, protects public safety and prevents a government shutdown.”

Unlike last year, few expected a budget to be passed by the May 31 deadline. Madigan did introduce a budget proposal, but it included $7 billion more than is expected to be taken in by the state over the year. It was widely derided as a non-starter, even by Democrats.