Deliberately undermining the work of bipartisan working groups that had been making progress toward achieving a compromise to end the state’s nearly year-long budget impasse, House Democrats, led by Speaker Michael Madigan, rushed a budget document through the House on May 25.
House members were given a mere two hours to review the spending proposal (SB 2048 Floor Amendment 2), which the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) projects is a record $7.5 billion out of balance. In fact, the plan to ram this bill through the chamber was so haphazard that a re-vote was taken the next day.
Spending at least $40 billion, when GOMB projects the state will take in roughly $32.5 billion, Republicans noted the Speaker’s proposal would translate into a 47 percent tax hike on Illinois families and employers—at a cost of $1,000 per average Illinois family.
Madigan’s budget only appropriates $14 billion of the total $40 billion that it is projected to spend. The remaining $26 billion, including items like pension payments and debt services, will be on autopilot—determined by court orders, consent decrees and continuing appropriations. That is how Illinois functioned in 2016 without a budget.
In response to suggestions the Governor simply veto out spending to balance the budget, the director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), Tim Nuding, explained that in many areas the administration’s hands are tied.
In fact, nearly $22.5 billion in state obligations, or 70 percent of anticipated state revenues, cannot be reduced without changes to state law. These obligations include payments on debt service bonds ($2.4 billion), Medicaid ($8.1 billion) and pension contributions ($7 billion), transfers to local government, RTA, downstate transit and other units of state government ($2.5 billion), repayment of FY15 interfund borrowing ($500 million), GA and judicial operations and state employee group health costs ($1.6 billion), among others.
Nuding noted that the state’s current budget hole is about $7 - $8 billion, though in late May Comptroller Leslie Geissler-Munger warned in a statement that if the Madigan budget became law, “our unpaid bills would surge past $15 billion, with payments delayed an unprecedented 8-9 months.” As a result, small businesses, nonprofits, schools, hospitals, elected leaders and others, would wait even longer for what they are owed by the state.
A Rauner administration official called the spending plan, “the phoniest phony budget in recent Illinois history – and that’s saying something.”
Instead of engaging on common sense, economy-boosting reforms, Democrats opted to once again abdicate any responsibility for the state’s current financial situation.
Instead, House Democrats knowingly approved an unbalanced budget, an action that jeopardized months of honest, bipartisan, bicameral negotiations between rank-and-file legislators. With their support of this phony-budget, House Democrats will now wear the collar for our continued budget stalemate.
Senate Bill 2048 failed in the Senate 17-31-10. The Governor has indicated he’ll veto the budget if it hits his desk.