The people of Illinois thought all the state needed was to survive through the election and then ensure both legislative houses and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner would finally pass a budget 16 months which would now have to account for the previous fiscal year (2015-16, which ended on June 30) and the current fiscal year, minus the funding allocated in the stopgap spending bill. The time for talk, bargaining and deals begins today as the first of six veto session days in Springfield during the lame duck session leading to the new session convening in January.
While Republican legislators and Governor Rauner will be present, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have been absolutely silent - silence that has cost Illinois taxpayers greatly.
As it currently stands, Illinois has a stack of overdue bills totalling $9.2 billion, according to the Illinois Comptroller's office. If nothing is done about it, Crain's Business Journal expects that to hit $14 billion in almost no time at all.
We will agree with Rauner on this one argument: Illinois cannot tax its way out of its money woes, which is currently in a severe and critical condition. Rauner has insisted that before passing any budgets or tax hikes, Illinois needs some hope to once again grow jobs and revenue by limiting the power of public sector unions, reforming the workers compensation system and getting governmental reforms such as term limits passed. However, Madigan has threatened that no progress will be made unless Rauner drops all of those conditions - a statement from a Chicagoland politician who's been in power in the state house for nearly four decades.
The state doesn't need any more of our money, considering we have the fifth-highest tax rate ($5,235 per person) in America, according to Tax Foundation. Even the libertarian think tank Illinois Policy Institute agrees that taxes in Illinois has far outpaced the inflation rate.
It's time for politicians in Springfield to realize Illinois doesn't have a revenue problem or a taxation problem. They're addicted to excessive spending and both major parties are incredibly guilty of something they haven't done since 2001 - passing a balanced budget. No excessive revenues, no excessive expenditures.
Madigan and his Democratic cronies claim they're the constitutional scholars when they paid off the court system to neuter the Illinois Independent Map Amendment, which petitions were circulated statewide, collecting signatures from nearly 564,000 registered voters. Not only did they have disregard for IIMA, but they have also chosen to ignore the constitutional mandate set forth in the Illinois Constitution, Article VIII, Section 2, subsections (a) and (b), something they have done since the last balanced budget was passed in 2001 during the Republican administration of George H. Ryan. Even worse, the Madigan/Cullerton collective felt there was no need to have a budget at all, leading to the longest budgetary standoff in modern politics.
Lawmaker inaction doesn't help anybody. Not the poor, nor the middle class and definitely not the wealthy. With no action, everybody loses. Inaction on the part of We The People doesn't help lawmakers act in a manner they should.
Call your state lawmakers - wherever you may be in the state. Locally, make sure you call your current state representatives Avery Bourne (95th - R), Sue Scherer (96th - D) and Adam Brown (102nd - R), as well as state senators Andy Manar (48th - D) and Chapin Rose (51st - R) - and even incoming 102nd District state representative Brad Halbrook, who has previously served and was elected to replace Brown, who chose to term limit himself. Get them to the negotiating table and talk and don't be afraid to blow up their phone lines all day and everyday, because if no action is taken, then Illinois needs to be rid of the Madigan/Cullerton silence and elect not only a new House speaker, but a new Senate president as well.