State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) joined with several of his colleagues to present a compromise budget package within framework laid out by Governor Bruce Rauner that includes significant areas of agreement on spending, reforms, and school funding.
“Taken as a whole, this plan largely represents where we were at in terms of negotiations and agreements before Democrats walked away in early May,” said Barickman. “This is the next step toward passing a real budget, fixing school funding, and reforming the system.”
The Republicans’ compromise plan includes a balanced budget with spending caps, along with plans for school funding reform, real property tax relief for homeowners, effective workers compensation reform to improve the state’s dismal business climate, term limits for legislative leaders, pension reform, and a plan to ease and encourage government consolidation.
“This offers us a path forward toward agreement on a balanced budget,” said Barickman. “This is how we end the political stalemate that has embroiled our state for far too long.”
Part of the plan includes two bills that have already passed the Senate, pension reform and government consolidation—with changes made to strengthen and improve the previous local government consolidation proposal. The property tax freeze would last for four years with while allowing voters to raise or lower levies via referendum. The workers compensation reform reflects agreements that were made between leaders from both parties during negotiations on the “grand bargain” earlier in the year. Term limit legislation would limit legislative leaders to serving no more than 10 years along with a limit of 8 years for constitutional officers.
“This plan as a whole and these individual bills represent significant concessions from Republicans, they focus on things that we all agree on, and they represent a real middle ground on some very tough and important issues,” said Senator Barickman.
The school funding reform legislation takes elements from both Senator Barickman’s Senate Bill 1124 and Senate Bill 1 which was passed by Democrats in the spring. The two plans both agree on areas including how funding is used to help low income students, protections and safeguards for English learners and special education, adjustments for regional cost differences, along with several other technical issues.
“We all agree that we need to fix our broken school funding formula right now," said Barickman. "This legislation contains much of the priorities Democrats advanced in Senate Bill 1, provides meaningful help for Chicago, ensures that no districts lose money, and treats all of our schools fairly and equitably under the evidence based model."
The Republicans introduced their plan at a press conference in Chicago and called upon Democrat leaders to return to the Capitol to work on the budget immediately.
“The end of the fiscal year is just two weeks away, we need to be in Springfield working on the budget,” said Senator Barickman. “If Democrats will return to the negotiating table, we can take significant action and end this budget impasse right now.”