May 24–Dear state elected officials,
You have the ability to do something profound right now.
You can do it through your financial discipline.
You can do it by passing a full-year, balanced state budget.
We ask today that you get this job finished by the deadline of May 31.
You know the drill.
You get a spending plan approved with a simple majority by then and the governor signs or vetoes it. The state’s fiscal year starts July 1. If not, the spending plan needs a three-fifths majority vote from the Legislature — quite the hurdle.
It is your responsibility. But this goal has proven unreachable for political reasons. Illinois didn’t have a complete state budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, plus a chunk of 2018 — an unprecedented and humiliating impasse that harmed our state immeasurably.
That lawmakers used an income tax increase to break the stalemate last year was unfortunate, but it did the job. We breathed a sigh of relief. Then the relief morphed into renewed concern as this year’s budget process has proven stubbornly slow, full of the same old posturing. There is optimism you will meet the deadline, given the public outrage you faced last year.
There has been talk of a partial budget to get us through November, after election season. We see tactics like that as a cop-out, embraced over and over again by this legislative body. Partial budgets put municipalities, schools, community colleges, social service agencies and numerous important government operations in fiscal uncertainty. The cumulative effect is that our financial security remains out of reach.
Illinois had $1.03 billion in late-payment penalties last year, when the unpaid bill backlog topped $16.67 billion. Unfunded pension liabilities as of June 30 were $129 billion. Our population continues to drop.
You must do better.
We expect better.
We expect a sense of urgency.
Yes, the budget process is broken. But if we’re going to make cuts, let’s talk about that right now. Making hard decisions now will take a kind of political courage rare in Springfield.
With only a few days left of the legislative session, we ask our delegation in the General Assembly to take stock of where we are. And we ask voters to remember this sense of uncertainty in November.
We need courage from every House and Senate member. We need courage from GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago.
Pass a basic budget.
Do not wait.
The cliff is approaching again.
Here it comes.
This article provided by NewsEdge.