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'Pottersville' Vs. 'The System': War Of The Words Between Rauner, Mendoza Escalates

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and state Comptroller Susana Mendoza ratcheted up the blame game on Monday over who is responsible for the dire financial outlook for social services that rely on state funding. 

Speaking at the City Club of Chicago, Mendoza, a Democrat who won the comptroller’s seat in a special election last year, said she’s had to shuffle money between various state funds to accelerate payments to social service programs on the verge of closing due to the ongoing, nearly 21-month-long budget stalemate. 

“We’re playing George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life. You know that part where he goes, ‘We can’t give you all the money in your account, but what can you get by on?’” Mendoza quipped in her prepared remarks Monday. “That’s us every day. We’re just trying to keep Gov. Rauner from turning Illinois into Pottersville.”

Later, in answering reporters’ questions, Mendoza continued her attack on Rauner for blaming her and other Democratic officials, including House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), for trying to create a crisis and shut down state government.

“I think he suffers from, like, Rauneritis. It’s like the inability to accept responsibility for any problems,” Mendoza said. 

Mendoza’s comments come as Rauner continued to accuse Mendoza of being accountable to machine politicians and not Illinois taxpayers. 

“She’s part of the system and part of the problem,” Rauner said at his own news conference in southwest suburban Lyons.

The sniping between two of the state’s top constitutional officers has become a fixture of the state’s budget impasse since Mendoza took office. 

Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that Deputy Gov. Leslie Munger, the former comptroller who lost her reelection bid to Mendoza, initially was paid out of a pool of money that is $4 billion behind on its bills. Rauner said it was a “clerical error” and accused Mendoza of feeding the story to the AP. Mendoza’s office denied she provided the story.

Tony Arnold covers state politics for WBEZ. You can follow him at @tonyjarnold

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