This week, the Illinois Senate passed a pair of bills to fund many of the remaining operations of state government until the end of Fiscal Year 2015. I give Governor Bruce Rauner a lot of credit for stepping up to the plate with these budget bills.
The plan does not raise taxes and balances the current budget. It is bold legislation, because former Governor Pat Quinn left us with a real mess after his “booby trap” budget, passed by the General Assembly last year without any Republican votes.
I did not support last year’s budget because it left many things unfunded, which could have left our public safety system in shambles. I hope that our efforts this week are just the beginning of our long-term plan to restore Illinois’ fiscal solvency.
We have to stop spending more than we are taking in and the votes this week were “tough medicine,” but they were exactly what we needed in order to make Illinois fiscally healthy again. The votes also proved that we are not going to continue to spend, spend, and spend some more. Leadership must show that times are changing in Springfield.
It was very ironic that our March 26 vote to fix the budget was exactly one year -- to the day -- that Governor Quinn introduced the irresponsible Fiscal Year 2015 budget. The fix for FY 2015, was the easy one when compared to the difficult decisions that will have to be made for FY 2016.
Cutting budgets, grants, and programs are never easy decisions because there will always be people on the losing end of the decision. Unfortunately, Illinois previous governors and, the legislative majority’s appetite for spending was never in line with the true fiscal realities we face.
This week was without a doubt one of the more interesting ones in Springfield, because there was a change in mindset. A new mindset, in large part due to the efforts of Governor Rauner, will usher in an era of common-sense, which has been very uncommon for far too long.
Legislators of both parties and chambers worked in concert to rein in spending without raising taxes. Our work is only beginning and this week’s vote is by all accounts just the first of many difficult decisions ahead for lawmakers and Governor Rauner. I believe that we are up to the task of making Illinois great again!