Illinois Senate Democrats on Tuesday put forward a series of legislative proposals focused on helping middle-class families.
Democrats offered up the package of legislation as an alternative to Gov. Bruce Rauner's anti-union, pro-business "Turnaround Agenda."
In a statement about the new Democrat-backed proposals, state Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said, "Our governor keeps saying that we need to reinvigorate Illinois' economy and make it a more attractive place to live.
"We agree with his goal, but we don't agree on how to best achieve it," Harmon continued. "This proposal outlines some of the items we believe will truly strengthen our economy and make Illinois a better place to live and work."
Increasing the state's minimum wage to $11 by 2019, closing corporate loopholes, implementing paid sick time requirements for workers and providing students with free community college for two years as well as public university tuition tax credits are among the items on the Senate Democrat's agenda
"I'm concerned that the priorities of the middle class and families struggling to get by have been neglected as the rhetoric at the Capitol has heated up," added state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago). "These initiatives are basic ingredients of a more competitive, compassionate Illinois: education access, workplace protections, a living wage and tax reforms so working families aren't forced to shoulder more than their share."
Democrats introduced the proposals amid heated debate over the budget for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, and on the same day Rauner said he is preparing to implement $400 million worth of spending cuts in the event that an agreement is not reached by the budget deadline.
Democrats have put forward a 2016 spending plan that's $3 billion short. They have proposed some spending cuts and want to work with the administration in finding new revenues to tackle the budget.
Rauner has said he will not sign an unbalanced budget and will not consider new revenue options unless Democrats go along with components of the governor's controversial "Turnaround Agenda."