Governor Bruce Rauner remains committed to a new
direction for Illinois, asking lawmakers again to work with him to achieve
fiscal responsibility and a fundamental change in the way state government
works, according to Senator Tim Bivins.
Governor Rauner issued his call for change
during his second “State of the State” address, presented to a joint session of
Illinois lawmakers Jan. 27 in the House of Representatives chambers.
“A new legislative year is a good
time to renew our pledge for fiscal responsibility and to end years of spending
beyond what taxpayers can afford. Those who insist on maintaining the status
quo have got to come to terms with some harsh fiscal realities. Illinois’
finances are a mess and the decisions we face are tough,” Senator Bivins said. “As I
said in September 2015 – and it bears repeating – ‘$38 billion in spending, $32
billion in revenue, vote no.’”
To overcome years of economic
stagnation and loss, Illinois’ legislative leaders must move beyond outdated
policies, partisan differences and power plays. Senator Bivins said the state’s fiscal
forecast is bleak if the legislative majorities refuse to come to the table.
With no meaningful reforms, Illinois is projected to have a nearly $5 billion
hole in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget and by June 30, the state could have $9
billion in unpaid bills.
“While Democrats leaders keep
their iron grip on the status quo and continue to play their power games,
agencies like Lutheran Social Services of Illinois are forced to make terribly
difficult decisions that affect senior citizens, the homeless, and people with
mental health issues,” Senator Bivins said. “Our state’s safety net is failing the
people it is supposed to serve.”
Senator Bivins said the Rauner
Administration has been working to bring a new direction to Illinois, but are
dealing with the cumulative effects of years of tax-and-spend policies and
questionable budgeting practices. The Governor’s Office of Management and
Budget recently released three-year fiscal projections mandated by state
statute, and those numbers are even more disturbing. The projections show that
under “auto-pilot” budgets over the next three years, the state’s backlog of
bills could reach $25 billion by June 30, 2019.
Senator Bivins said key to turning
Illinois around is promoting the kind of economic climate that encourages job
creation and growth. Other legislative issues that should be part of the
conversation this year are property tax relief; education funding and reforms
that prepare young people for careers; workers’ compensation and regulation
reforms that encourage business growth and jobs; and reining in state spending.
“I am a strong advocate for
fiscal responsibility. My Senate district office has consistently come in under
budget each year – by as much as 34% one year. What we did not spend, we
returned to the state’s General Revenue Fund,” Senator Bivins said “The money spent by
my office is provided by the hard-working taxpayers and I have a responsibility
to manage it prudently.”
The 45th District Senator said he
stands ready to work with Governor Rauner and his fellow lawmakers to find
solutions for the many problems facing Illinois.
“I remain committed to passing a
balanced, constitutional state budget, as well as fundamental reforms to boost
jobs creation and economic prosperity,” Senator Bivins said.
Governor Rauner will present his
Budget Address on February 17.