As the Illinois General Assembly’s spring legislative session rapidly closes in on the May 31st deadline, it seems the only real consensus in the Capitol is this session will run well past the scheduled adjournment. A closer look at what’s happened in the Capitol since late February makes clear not only why lawmakers and the Governor will likely be spending their summer in Springfield, but the road map for how we can begin to move Illinois in a positive direction.
Let’s rewind to November, when 53% of voters agreed with then candidate Bruce Rauner that fundamental reform was necessary to turn Illinois around. After becoming Governor, he organized working groups, bipartisan in their makeups, to discuss, negotiate, and craft legislation to reform policies in several areas where it is badly needed; areas such as workers compensation and unemployment insurance, redistricting, property taxes and civil justice, among others. At the invitation of the Governor, Democrat legislators came to the working group meetings. But either on instructions from the Chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, Speaker Michael Madigan, or because they actually believed that the status quo is acceptable, they refused to engage in a meaningful way or take the discussions seriously.
For well over two months, meetings were held. The Governor was clear on that which he believes is necessary reform but Democrat legislators offered no meaningful input or alternative suggestions, unless “we don’t like this” counts as either.
But suddenly now, in the waning days of the legislative session, Speaker Madigan and his Democrat majorities in the House and Senate have found their voice. But not on the reforms the overwhelming majority of Illinoisans favor and for which they voted. Rather, they’ve decided they favor the status quo – in the form of ever increasing spending and spending far more than the tax revenue available.
In the coming days, Speaker Madigan and the Democrat majority will approve a budget that spends over $36 billion, when only $32 billion will be available – adding almost $4 billion in additional debt. No reform. More spending. Defending the status quo.
As always, I will continue to push for that which my constituents wish to see – a reformed, more efficient, more responsible, and more prosperous Illinois.
- State Senator Dale Righter