Lawmakers should be in Springfield working on budget

Springfield – Despite news that the state’s bill backlog has now reached $10.6 billion, Democrat leaders in the Illinois House and Senate decided to end the first week of the fall veto session after only two days.

“There is no bigger problem facing Illinois than our massive budget shortfall, and there’s no excuse to not be at the Capitol working to solve it,” said State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). “The people of Illinois deserve a government that is working for them, not taking an early vacation.”

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner had convened meetings between the four legislative leaders to work on the budget, but Democrat leaders skipped the first meeting, then showed no urgency to reach any agreement in subsequent meetings. House Speaker Mike Madigan even suggested completely resetting the entire process and starting over with working groups of various lawmakers, which would likely be a much slower process.

During the week, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget released their annual long-term budget forecast, showing a projected current fiscal year budget shortfall of $5.3 billion, leading to backlog of $13.5 billion. If no significant reforms to spending or revenue are made, the total backlog could grow to $47 billion by FY2022.

While the current fiscal year’s stopgap budget funds K-12 schools and transportation projects for a full year, other state services and programs that are not covered by court orders and consent decrees will run out of appropriations authority on January 1st. That list would likely include many human service providers, state vendors and operations (including things like power bills at prisons and other state facilities).

“The citizens of this state made it clear when they sent Governor Rauner to Springfield, they want a change to years of unbalanced budgets and out-of-control spending. They demanded change, and we owe them no less,” said Senator Barickman. “There’s time to get something done before the end of the veto session, but that won’t happen unless both sides actually want to work to compromise. And that’s not happening when you send everyone home early for the week.”

The second and final week of the annual fall veto session is scheduled to begin on November 29th in Springfield.

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