and constitutional budget remains elusive more than two weeks after the start
of Illinois’ new budget year on July 1.
The ongoing stalemate is
disappointing because we have had plenty of time to work together to come to a
compromise. It has been six months since Governor Bruce Rauner delivered the annual
budget message February 18.
Finding a solution to the impasse
has been further complicated by the Democrat-controlled Senate’s unprecedented
action to approve a one-month budget, and then separately vote to override five
of the Governor’s vetoes of the unbalanced and unconstitutional budget they
passed in May.
So that you understand what is
happening in Springfield – this is not a battle of egos as the press has
sometimes portrayed it. It is truly a battle between the Governor’s principled
stand for common-sense, critical reforms to turn our state around from the
financial precipice and the anti-business climate that has driven people and
businesses out of our state versus Speaker Michael Madigan’s financial interest in
protecting his contributors, namely the trial lawyers (who hate the proposed
tort reform, which would stop or limit venue shopping) and some labor unions
(who hate the provisions in the property tax freeze that would let localities
negotiate more favorable terms for construction projects). Speaker Madigan also
does not want to lose his ability to control redistricting by turning it over
to an independent commission nor does he want the political class to be limited
by the proposed 10-year limit on serving in the legislature.
Bogus budget votes
The Legislature is required to
pass a 12-month budget to meet its constitutional responsibilities. The
one-month plan is simply one-twelfth of the bad deal the majority party
approved in May. If budget spending isn’t balanced with budget revenue, it’s
unacceptable whether it’s a one-month or a 12-month plan.
The Governor and legislative Republicans
aren’t the only ones opposed to the temporary budget. Organizations like
Illinois Partners for Human Services, the Responsible Budget Coalition and
Voices for Illinois Children have all come out against the temporary proposal
saying a “Band-Aid budget” will do little, if anything, for many human service
providers. They are urging a year-long, balanced budget to help Illinois’ most
The Senate Democrats also took
action to override five of the 20 budget vetoes issued by the Governor last
The Democrat lawmakers admittedly
passed a bogus budget in May, acknowledging their plan would spend $4 billion
more than the state expects to receive in tax revenue during Fiscal Year 2016.
Governor Rauner vetoed the budget
bill to keep his promise about addressing Illinois’ fiscal crisis brought on by
years of overspending.
Reform Illinois and end budget crisis
Getting Illinois’ fiscal house in
order goes hand-in-hand with making government more efficient and revitalizing
the state’s economy, which is why I support a set of basic, common-sense
Those reforms include:
property taxes and giving local governments the tools to operate in a less
costly business regulations that make it harder for employers to hire new
workers and expand their businesses; and
good government reforms that return control to the people, such as term limits,
and taking politicians out of the process of drawing their own legislative
Structural reforms and a
responsible, constitutional state budget are directly linked because growing
the economy, generating additional tax revenue and making government more
efficient impacts the state’s ability to provide and pay for government
While the lack of a real budget
is troubling for government operations and limits the ability to direct money
to programs and services, many essential services are continuing as first
reported last week. The public should be aware that:
will start on time.
State Police will remain on duty.
will remain open—with prison guards on duty.
Emergency Management (disaster response) personnel will keep working.
wide range of health and human services mandated by the federal government and
federal courts will continue to operate.
transfers to local governments will continue automatically.
you are waiting for a refund from the Department of Revenue, that refund is
state employee pensions and benefits will be paid, current state employee
benefits will remain in place and salaries will eventually be paid when the
budget is signed.
state will pay its debt obligations.
New report on Illinois food stamp aid
A number of economic realities
clearly indicate that a turnaround is needed. Illinois’ economic recovery from
the 2008 recession trails the nation, our unemployment rate remains above the
national average and workforce participation is at an all-time low while
Illinois’ job creation lags behind many of its neighboring states.
The latest evidence was revealed
during the week by an Illinois Policy
Institute study that shows Illinois now has a greater percentage of its
citizens on the federal food stamp program than any other Midwest state.
According to IPI, nearly 16 percent of Illinois residents are getting aid
through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.