Springfield – A series of reform and budgetary bills aimed at ending the state’s long budget impasse have been filed in the Senate, according to State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington).
“This represents a huge step forward, with significant and meaningful compromise plans on a number of major reforms that could not only help grow jobs and business, but help plug the state’s massive budget backlog,” said Barickman. “This represents a large scale plan to help repair much of what has been broken for too long in Illinois.”
In addition to creating a full budget for the current fiscal year the legislation includes a number of major reforms, including workers compensation reform, term limits for legislative leaders, procurement reform to help reduce bureaucratic red tape, a property tax freeze for homeowners, pension reform (including the abolishment of the General Assembly’s retirement system), mandate relief, and a measure to help local government consolidation efforts. It also marks the first time a compromise has formed around both a budget and potential revenue sources.
“There’s some stuff here I really like and support, and some stuff I don’t, and I think it’s going to be a similar reaction for every legislator,” said Sen. Barickman. “It think it’s often a sign of a good compromise when no one gets everything they want, but there’s enough to make everyone happy.”
Senator Barickman noted that the legislation is not expected to be voted on, because of resistance to passing major legislation during the “lame duck” session before it is vetted by the public, as well as constitutional issues with limited time before the new session beginning. Leaders of both parties promised to re-file the legislation on the first day of the new General Assembly, January 11.
“This marks an end to the old ways of leaders ramming through legislation in the waning hours of the lame-duck session,” said Sen. Barickman. “These bills are out there for the public to see, and they can be thoroughly vetted before an actual vote is taken.”
He also noted that one subject was noticeably absent from the series of bills, school funding reform. Senator Barickman has been working with members of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission on a solution to the state’s woefully outdated model, but he says there isn’t an agreement yet.
“We are getting much closer to a school funding reform compromise than we’ve ever been, but there simply wasn’t enough agreement to file legislation as part of this package,” said Sen. Barickman. “But we are working hard and I believe we are very close. I believe that no budget plan is complete until we have an agreement on school funding. We can’t continue on with a broken system any longer.”
Barickman noted that the Illinois School Funding Commission is required to file a final report with recommendations for legislation on February 1st.