The ongoing budget stalemate in the State Capitol clearly highlights the stark differences between reform-minded Republicans and status-quo Democrats, amid questions and lawsuits about what the state can – and can’t – spend in the absence of a budget, according to Senator Jim Oberweis.
“As a businessman, I appreciate Governor Bruce Rauner’s business approach in addressing our state’s fiscal crisis. He has provided comprehensive analysis and has offered an open, honest assessment. It is refreshing to hear the truth about the terrible financial mess our state is in and to hear real, long-term solutions instead of gimmicks to postpone the inevitable,” Senator Oberweis said. “It is unfortunate that the Democrat leaders want to continue down the same worn out fiscal path that has brought our state to the edge of ruin.”
The 25th District Senator says he applauds Governor Rauner’s call for shared sacrifice, and notes that he has already implemented cost-cutting measures in his district and state offices.
“I have refused a state pension and share my district office with Representative Keith Wheeler of Montgomery to save taxpayers’ money,” Senator Oberweis said. “In addition, I returned $11,062.66 from my Fiscal Year 2015 district budget to the state’s coffers, and expect to be able to do even better during Fiscal Year 2016.”
Senator Oberweis also shares a legislative aide in Springfield.
“While each State Senator has traditionally had his/her own legislative assistant, I felt one legislative aide could easily handle two senators. So when Senator Chris Nybo of Elmhurst was newly elected, I suggested we share a legislative aide, and Chris readily agreed. That probably saves taxpayers about $50,000 per year when you consider salary, benefits and occupancy costs,” Senator Oberweis said. “They are small steps, but they show we are willing to make sacrifices to save taxpayer dollars. Every little bit helps.”
Budget stalemate effects
As Fiscal Year 2016 began July 1 without a
state budget, many people have questions regarding what state services and programs
will be impacted if the budget stalemate continues.
Schools will start on time, as Governor Rauner
did sign the education funding portion of the budget. The education
appropriation was the lone piece of the Democrats’ budget proposal that he
signed into law. Governor Rauner vetoed the majority of the budget because it was $4
billion out of balance.
Emergency services will remain intact and
function fully, such as the Illinois State Police and emergency management
personnel. Prisons will remain open and prison guards will be on duty like
normal. Local governments will continue to receive their normal funding
transfers from state income taxes, sales taxes, and motor-fuel taxes.
Current state employees’ health, dental,
or life insurance will not be affected, even if paychecks are delayed. As long as the employee continues to work,
insurance premiums will be taken accordingly.
An employee’s workers’ compensation will also not be affected. Also, if an employee is enrolled in the
Deferred Compensation Program, as long as the employee continues to work and
earn a paycheck, payroll deductions for Deferred Compensation should be taken
accordingly. Employees enrolled in the
Commuter Savings Program will also continue to receive the benefit under this
Benefits for retirees will not be impacted
by the budget stalemate. All retired
state employees will continue receiving their pension checks and health
benefits, as these are considered continuing appropriations and do not need to
be appropriated every year.
Rauner introduces reforms again
On July 8, Governor Rauner introduced reforms once
again aimed at improving the state’s business climate and finding compromise
with Democrat legislative leaders.
Incorporating specific requests from
President John Cullerton and Senate Democrats, Governor Rauner introduced revised
legislation for a property tax freeze – which includes Democrat language to
change school funding in Illinois, and an updated compromise bill on workers’
Governor Rauner also introduced an updated version
of pro-jobs legislation that would cut down on frivolous lawsuits and renewed
his call for a vote on redistricting reform and term limits. However, instead
of returning to the negotiating table or offering compromises of their own, the
House instead passed a one-month spending plan that includes none of Governor Rauner’s
Because their overall spending plan runs
nearly $4 billion ahead of expected tax revenues, it will inevitably lead to
one of two options: state services and programs running out of money long
before the year’s end; or the immediate need for more money in the state’s
coffers. Both Governor Rauner and Republican lawmakers have said that any
discussion about a tax hike shouldn’t come before structural reforms that
create jobs and boost the economy.