- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 28, 2016

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Under the joint headline “Enough,” about a dozen Illinois newspapers are running front-page editorials to demand that the state’s political leaders end the year-old budget stalemate.

The (Springfield) Journal Register, the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers are publishing the editorials in their morning editions Wednesday, when lawmakers return to the state capitol for a one-day session before the state enters a second fiscal year Friday without a spending plan.

“The political war between (Gov. Bruce) Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan has been confounding and unconscionable. Rauner has insisted on passage of the so-called Turnaround Agenda, a series of pro-business measures, as a condition of the budget. Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have seemed focused primarily on thwarting the governor,” the State Journal-Register’s editorial said. The newspaper is using the whole front page for its editorial.

The Sun-Times in its editorial wrote: “As of Thursday, Illinois will have gone a whole year without passing a budget. As a result, to cite just a few examples of the damage done, drug addicts are not getting counseling, old people with dementia are not being cared for, rape victims are not getting help. State museums have been closed. Young offenders cut loose by social service agencies are back to committing crimes. Teenagers trying to steer clear of gangs are not going to after-school programs or study centers.”

Newspapers seldom, if ever, coordinate stances by their opinion editors, and seldom use their front pages for opinion pieces. But Rosanne Cheeseman, interim publisher of the Journal-Register, which coordinated the effort, said the editors hoped that speaking in unison would have a greater impact on political leaders.

“That voice becomes very, very powerful when we join together,” said Cheeseman, who joined with Journal-Register Executive Editor Angie Muhs in coming up with the idea. “We’ve heard from others that they don’t feel our governor and legislators are listening anymore.”

They said that about 50 other newspapers plan to run similar editorials on their opinion pages Wednesday.

Rauner, a Republican, and the Democrats who control the General Assembly have been at odds over the budget for more than a year. Rauner, a venture capitalist elected in 2014, is holding out for business-friendly reforms he says will help the economy before agreeing to a budget that would close a spending deficit partly by raising taxes. Democratic leaders say his proposals would hurt middle-class families.

Meanwhile, social service agencies have cut back or, in some cases, closed; state universities and community colleges have received only partial funding; and financial aid for low-income students has been limited. The state is far behind in payments to many private companies that provide services.

At least some of the opinion pieces were first published Tuesday on the news outlets’ websites.

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