Months of negotiations have brought lawmakers close to a long-term budget solution with necessary government reforms that would have improved with more talks but were called for a vote on May 17, according to Senator Jim Oberweis.
Senate President John Cullerton called several legislative measures for a vote, even though Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno asked that discussions be allowed to continue toward the goal of reaching a compromise.
Initially crafted as a package of linked bills, the “Grand Bargain” was unlinked May 17 and the separate provisions called as stand-alone bills. Several bills passed with bipartisan support and others advanced by strictly partisan roll calls. A few bills did not have sufficient votes to pass.
“The nature of compromise is that both sides get something they want, and neither side gets everything it wants. During this process, there has been plenty of blame to go around and both sides have moved the goal posts at one time or another,” Senator Oberweis said. “What I find remarkable it that as we have hammered out the details of a budget agreement, it’s become clear that one of our greatest challenges is breaking years and years of bad fiscal habits, of short-term planning and wasteful spending. Some lawmakers say publicly that they want a balanced budget, yet they will not do the heavy lifting needed to make that happen. There is either a failure to understand the very real challenges facing this state, or there is simply an unwillingness to make the difficult decisions needed to put Illinois on the path to long-term stability.”
The 25th District Senator said he supports local government consolidation (but not today’s bill), procurement reform, and a plan to help local governments avoid loan defaults resulting from the state budget impasse. He voted for pension reform because it is estimated to save as much as $700 million to $1 billion annually, and it will help protect the integrity of the state’s retirement systems.
Senator Oberweis said he knows that changes are needed in Illinois workers’ compensation system and local property tax systems, but he could not support all the provisions in the specific bills. He also said he could not vote for legislation that would significantly expand gambling in Illinois, and allow the state to borrow even more money without a guarantee that those funds would be used to pay down unpaid bills that are currently accruing interest at 1 percent per month.