Oftentimes in life, we can look to an occurrence or happening and recognize it to be one of those “the momentum has shifted” moments, when the outlook of what may lie ahead changes significantly. This week in the Illinois General Assembly was just such a moment, when by substantial majorities, the House and Senate erased the $1.6 billion deficit in the current fiscal year, leaving in its wake something unheard of in years – a balanced state budget.
When Governor Rauner took office, he outlined the two most prominent budgetary challenges for the 2015 legislative session. First, balancing the current year’s budget – suffering a $1.6 billion deficit as a result of overspending by former Governor Quinn and his party’s members in the legislature last spring – with only a few months left in the year. Second, adopting a new budget for the coming year that is also balanced, which will be no easy task considering the forecasted $6.2 billion deficit.
But perhaps just as important as the action taken this week to balance this year’s budget is how it came about.
Simply said, it was a result of determined and goal oriented leadership. For weeks, Governor Rauner has met with legislators of both parties, making the case – in convincing fashion – that balancing this year’s budget was both necessary and right. Most impressively, the Governor was able to drag the Democrat leaders into the conversation and eventually the solution. He did so while also reminding them that it was their budget that created the mess in the first place.
This week demonstrated two very important and encouraging points. First, that there exists a sizable number of legislators who have the view that regardless of the difficulty or political problems that accompany cutting spending, it must be done. And second, despite his relative lack of political experience, it appears this new governor is clearly capable of negotiating the mine field of Illinois politics.
- State Senator Dale Righter