Column 5-27-2016

Are you satisfied with Illinois Government? Well you could pay 47% more for it. Wednesday night, the House Democrats launched a surprise attack on taxpayers, throwing a 500 page budget for a vote, giving us one hour to prepare for it. The Speaker of the House waived parliamentary procedure and pushed SB 2048 to a vote.


For the first time in Illinois history, the state would spend $40 billion dollars in General Revenue Fund spending even though our state is expected to bring in $33 billion dollars in revenue. That is $7 billion more than what we expect to generate in revenue. It is unconscionable to double our debt next year. The taxpayers did not cause this problem. The legislature caused this problem and the legislature can solve it if only they choose to pass necessary reforms.


Sometimes you are left wondering what to believe when you see the figures used by both sides.  For simplification’s sake, let’s boil things down in terms of a family budget.  All we have to do is take off six little zeroes from each number to put things into perspective. Imagine that between you and your significant other you expect a take home pay of $32,600 over the next twelve months.  So, being the fiscally responsible couple that you and your significant other are, you sit down at the kitchen table to discuss finances and to create a budget for the upcoming year.  After a few hours of discussion you settle on budget: of the $32,600 you bring in this year you will spend a meager $40,000 –wait—that can’t be right, can it?  Oh that’s right, you forgot to account for your $125,000 mortgage and the $15,000 you owe on the car.  Don’t sweat it, you have two kids.  Why don’t you just take out a line of credit on your children?  Great idea!  So, after moving some numbers around you finally have a responsible budget and all you had to do was saddle your kids with your debts.


Ok, so this is perhaps an unfair example, because I know that there is not a single family in the 89th District that is this irresponsible. But this example does highlight an important point: our deficits are not just an economic issue, but also a moral issue. Will we allow our state to accrue so much debt that it leaves our descendants to pick up our tab? By that point they will be faced with two choices: find a way to pay for our generation’s debts or flee the state.

My colleagues and I have worked tirelessly, coming up with endless compromises and proposals. Not one of them was called to a vote on the House Floor. Speaker Madigan and the Democrats he controls have killed any reasonable, balanced budget proposal. They don’t care if the budget is unbalanced, as long as they are doing things the same way we have been doing them for the past 30 years.


Meanwhile, seniors who lost their meals on wheels, kids in poverty trying to get grants for college, and countless others have fallen between the cracks. Chicago Democrats who control the House and Senate need to take just one or two steps toward the middle. We must find a compromise. The Oxford Dictionary defines “compromise” as an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.

We are willing to make concessions. Are the Democrats? No. They would rather stomp their feet while they hold the college students and seniors hostage for political gain.

The two budget groups were starting to pull in the same direction and finally a budget feels closer than ever. The budget groups are bipartisan, rank-and-file legislators with good intentions. It is up to Speaker Madigan whether or not their proposals are called to a vote. If he continues this partisan political game, the blood of the people hurt by the impasse will be on his hands, not Republicans.

If we fulfill Speaker Madigan’s desires, you can expect an additional $7 billion dollars in expenses without any money to pay for it. It will require that we raise $7 billion dollars in revenue. Revenue equals taxes in their eyes.

To balance a $7 billion dollar deficit, the State would need a state income tax hike to at least 5.5%. My colleagues and I have said time and time again that everything is on the table; however we must make reforms to state government before we throw more money into state coffers.

This state has not done anything to reform its finances and does not deserve additional revenue. We want to end this financial turmoil that threatens the most vulnerable in our communities. It threatens the people who least can afford it. We want to work with the Democrats, but their Leadership does not want to work with us. They don’t understand the meaning of compromise. Compromise is not doing whatever Speaker Madigan wants.

This month, we released hundreds of millions of dollars to higher education from an emergency fund. It was a considerable amount of money, but it doesn’t fix the problem. It temporarily stopped the bleeding. Schools will exhaust all of that funding by the end of June.

Senator Manar’s school funding bill passed the Senate this week and may get called to a vote in the next few days. As a reminder, this bill would have a very negative impact on the schools in our district, with some losing a million dollars or more. You can’t take from Paul to pay Peter. That’s what this bill would do. I support more money for all school districts. No school should lose money, they should all gain money. We need to start funding our schools at 100% and making good on the promises that we made.

The Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on Tuesday, May 31st. I hope I can report next week that miraculously both sides of the aisle came together and negotiated a balanced budget. Until then, I wish you and your family a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend as we pay tribute to our men and women who sacrificed their lives protecting our freedom while serving in the Armed Forces.

This week reminds me of the following quote by Herbert Hoover, “It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech.  Immediately upon retaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.”

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