This week in Springfield, the Governor presented his budget address.
On a positive note, he spoke of the need to come together to get a balanced budget passed by working in a bipartisan manner. I couldn’t agree more that we need to collaborate and compromise in order to move Illinois forward and put a budget in place.
However, in his address – and in the proposed budget - the Governor did not adequately address the current crisis in public education funding and public safety. CPS remains in a fiscal crisis and is facing yet another round of extreme budget cuts; we have no plan to address the violent crime within our communities. There was no mention of the critical human service programs which have been decimated by the failure to have a budget in place for over two years, nor did we hear about ensuring adequate funding for higher education. Both the human services programs and our colleges and universities face even more drastic cuts in the Governor’s budget.
Despite his constitutional obligation to propose a balanced budget, the Governor’s numbers do not add up. His proposal is significantly out of balance - containing $4.5 billion in spending over projected revenues. Additionally, he relies on an additional $1.5 billion in “savings” based on proposed legislative action that has not been passed or even filed.
The Governor stated in his remarks that all policy decisions and legislative action be viewed through the lens of how each would impact “job creators” - which is code for wealthy business interests and individuals. While economic development and job creation are critical to keeping Illinois strong and vibrant, I don’t share this philosophy. Employment opportunities thrive when consumer activity thrives, and we see growth when businesses are doing well due and consumer demand is high. Consumer demand increases when wages are high and the business climate is stable. Both the ratings agencies and those in the business community agree that the instability created by Illinois’ failure to have a budget in place is the biggest obstacle to increased investment and economic growth.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Senate continues to work toward a bipartisan budget agreement, dubbed the “Grand Bargain.” It is my hope that these discussions will prove fruitful and the Senate is able to craft an agreement that will finally bring an end to the budget impasse and Illinois can pass a full and balanced budget.
Now, more than ever, we need to work together toward fiscal stability for Illinois - and pass a fair, complete budget which takes into account the priorities of our communities. I remain committed to doing what I can to make that happen.