Emerging from a meeting with Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders, Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton said Thursday that early state budget talks had taken positive steps forward.

Speaking to reporters, Cullerton said the governor acknowledged the revenue coming in from the state’s existing tax rates. Lawmakers were asked to agree to how much money they state has to spend, something that has traditionally signalled the beginning of state budget negotiations.

The Senate President also renewed his request that the governor release millions of dollars for mental health programs to help protect community safety. These programs were funded in the budget lawmakers enacted, but the governor refuses to release the money.

The push for mental health funding comes as the Senate President also asked the governor to sign a law extending the waiting period for buying assault weapons to 72 hours. That proposed law was approved by lawmakers with veto-proof majorities and has been on Rauner’s desk for nearly a month.

These requests to the governor for action follow a recent op-ed penned by the Senate President (made in a recent op-ed.)

During the meeting Thursday, the governor also asked lawmakers for more spending authority for the Department of Corrections, which apparently is in the midst of financial desperation. That was the subject of a Senate budget hearing on Wednesday.

Here are the president's remarks to reporters:

As governor, Bruce Rauner slashed funding for mental health programs, leaving thousands of people without needed services and costing people their jobs.

Now, the governor wants to create a new working group to explore the connection between mental health and public safety and come up with recommendations for him to consider.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton points out the governor’s inconsistencies and in a recently published opinion piece calls on the governor to join efforts to do something right now about mental health and gun violence rather than create another government group and schedule more meetings.

“Last weekend, millions of people across this country joined March For Our Lives rallies. They didn’t demand more government meetings. They demand action, and I think they deserve it,” Cullerton says.

“Before assembling another batch of bureaucrats to ponder possibilities, the governor should take action on what’s right in front of him.”

You can read Senate President Cullerton’s opinion piece here:
Quad-City Times - Guest view: Rauner can prove he's serious about mental health, guns
State Journal-Register - John Cullerton: Gov. Rauner, don’t silence gun safety movement
Daily Herald - Cullerton: We need action on existing gun bills, not more work groups

gun dealer petitionMillions of Americans have taken to the streets since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, to demand change in our gun laws. We have the opportunity now to take action here and make a difference.

A state licensing system for weapons dealers would give Illinois the ability to address lingering problems without relying on Washington, D.C. and the federal government. More than a year has been spent on bipartisan negotiations to come up with a practical, comprehensive system. More than 85 percent of Illinoisans support licensing gun dealers. A proposal won support in the Illinois Senate and House.

Gov. Bruce Rauner, however, vetoed recent efforts and remains opposed.

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SPRINGFIELD – With Congress paralyzed by partisan politics, Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton applauded his Illinois colleagues for taking action Wednesday to protect public safety and urged state lawmakers across the country to show similar leadership.

“I’m proud of the Illinois Senate’s continued leadership in pushing for safer communities. We all recognize the need for federal action on gun safety. But in the absence of federal action, I want to encourage our statehouse colleagues across the country to do what we did today, seize this opportunity to make a difference,” said Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton, who represents the state’s 6th Senate District in Chicago.

“And I want to specifically call on Indiana officials to finally do something about the flood of guns from their state flowing into Chicago and being used for crimes. If Indiana were to take public safety as seriously as we do, both of our states would be far better.”

The Senate President’s call for statehouse leadership across America followed the Illinois Senate’s approval of legislation regarding gun dealer licenses (HB1273) and creation of a process through which guns can be removed from people who family members believe are prone to violence (HB772).

Cullerton also stressed that annual studies have shown that lax gun laws in Indiana result in firearms flooding into the Chicago and being used for crimes. Between 2013 and 2016, 21 percent of the guns recovered by Chicago police had been sold in Indiana.

https://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/mayor/Press%20Room/Press%20Releases/2017/October/GTR2017.pdf (page 10)