Springfield, IL – For all of the finger-pointing and discouraging budget news coming out of the Illinois Legislature, the basic situation hasn’t changed – Governor Rauner is still demanding that unions be punished in exchange for agreeing to a state budget. Democrats, for all the talk about playing politics, continue to refuse to throw labor “under the bus” just to get a budget done.
The Legislature is now heading into uncharted waters with the end of the legislative session. They will hold a special summer session, but the difference is that anything to be approved will require a higher level of acceptance – a three-fifths vote instead of a simple majority.
Senate President John Cullerton tried the week before to get some movement on a temporary budget fix that would at least keep schools and service agencies going, without forcing either side to give in, but Rauner wouldn’t deal.
At least, he wouldn’t until just before the deadline, when he came up with his own short-term budget fix plan.
House Democrats, led by Speaker Mike Madigan, declined to jump onto that plan, but said they would take it up in the summer session, setting the stage for continued budget talks but with a higher standard of approval.
The House and Senate, both led by Democratic majorities, took turns vetoing each other in the last days of the session. The House had passed a $40 billion budget bill that was described as $7 billion out of balance, but the Senate voted it down before it could go to Rauner for an expected veto.
Meanwhile, the Senate had passed a $16 billion education funding plan that was then shot down in the House.
Rauner’s demands to hurt unions have been a moving target at times. His early proposals for local-government right-to-work seem to have lost all momentum, but he is still demanding cuts to workers compensation and prevailing wages and to end public-employee bargaining rights – assaults on workers that Democrats have not been willing to consider.
State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea) said the House budget plan is still greatly needed.
“For almost a year, the absence of a budget that protects our most vital state programs has resulted in instability, uncertainty and the elimination of critical services, and has brought us to the brink of a government shutdown,” Hoffman said.
“Our state and our community deserve better. This budget includes spending reductions and would only spend a fraction of what has been spent in the past, while still protecting Illinois’ working families and vulnerable residents.”
The plan would have provided public elementary schools and high schools with more than $6 million in additional funding over last year. The plan would also have funded life-saving breast cancer screenings and treatment for women, medical care for the elderly covered by Medicaid, services for children with developmental disabilities, autism and epilepsy, and services for abused and neglected children.
“Every day without a comprehensive budget, our state’s financial standing worsens and care is withheld from our most vulnerable residents,” Hoffman said. “I support a balanced approach to the state budget that includes spending reductions while protecting middle-class families and our most vulnerable from devastating cuts to the services and programs they depend on.”