Lawmakers continued to debate and fine-tune a budget framework during the week, gathering input on a package of bills with the goal of setting Illinois on the right fiscal course.
In other action, Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his third State of the State address and called on lawmakers to put partisanship aside for the good of Illinois residents while imploring the Senate to continue their bipartisan efforts to find consensus on the budget framework.
While no votes were taken during the week, the Senate continued to negotiate and move forward with a comprehensive budget framework that would produce a balanced budget and incorporate structural reforms, which would set the state on a brighter fiscal path in the coming years. This is the first time since the budget impasse began that a budget framework has been put forward containing a full-year balanced budget with structural reforms, which has been insisted upon by Republican lawmakers and the Governor.
Work is definitely needed on this group of bills as they stand right now. If we are being asked to accept a tax increase, we should be talking about more spending cuts and other common-sense reforms. It’s not a compromise if all voices are not heard. We need workers’ comp reform, pension reform, redistricting reform, term limits and spending cuts. So far this bill package is way too light on reforms and way too strong on tax increases.
During a series of committee hearings, lawmakers sought input on Senate Bills 1-13. These measures, which are packaged together, must all pass in order for the framework to succeed. The goal of this framework is to ensure Illinois gets a balanced budget for the current fiscal year, while also having it serve as a framework for all future budgets. We must act on the budget framework, because to continue on in the same course – which is doing nothing – is no longer a viable option.
The Senate is scheduled to reconvene February 7 at which time it is expected they will act on the budget framework.
State of the State
Governor Rauner delivered his third State of the State address January 25 and used the opportunity to highlight some key accomplishments achieved by his administration.
The Governor also addressed the need for Illinois to pass a balanced budget, with reforms, which will help create jobs and stimulate economic growth. Noting that work on a budget framework is under way in the Senate, the Governor implored senators to not give up on their efforts.
“Thank you for working so hard to try to come together on a bipartisan basis to find a compromise to get a truly balanced budget with changes to the system to help job creators and protect taxpayers,” said Governor Rauner. “We all know this is very, very difficult. There is a lot of arrows. Please don’t give up, please keep working, please keep trying. The people of Illinois need you to succeed.”
Delivering his remarks before a joint session of the General Assembly, Governor Rauner highlighted the success the state has had over the past two years in delivering record funding for education, strengthening ethics reforms, improving government efficiency, creating jobs, and reforming the state’s criminal just system.