Tomorrow in the Capitol Governor Rauner will offer his second Budget Address to the General Assembly. Needless to say, this is going an important speech and budget. It will be interesting to see if he present at two year budget and what priorities the Governor will introduce with this budget. We are now into the seventh month without a state budget.

The hole gets deeper and deeper everyday this impasse continues.

Look for my updates on the budget tomorrow.

Story on the budget from the Pantagraph in Bloomington.


No budget, no problem; Rauner to pitch next year’s plan

Dan Petrella

SPRINGFIELD — A week after President Obama called for bipartisan compromise in speech before the General Assembly, Gov. Bruce Rauner will address that deeply divided body about his plan for next year’s state budget — despite the fact that Illinois doesn’t have a budget for the current fiscal year.

The first-term Republican and the Legislature remain deadlocked after eight months.  Despite impending layoffs at public universities, disruption of social services, and reality that Illinois is digging itself billions of dollars deeper into debt due to declining revenue and court-mandated spending, there’s no resolution in sight.

Democrats say Rauner continues to insist on passing portions of his union-weakening “Turnaround Agenda” before he’ll agree to tax increases to balance the budget. The governor says  he and fellow Republicans are seeking structural reforms to increase revenue by growing the economy, but Democrats offer only tax hikes and budget cuts.

One thing on which lawmakers from both parties agree is that while state law requires the governor to present his budget plan for next year, Rauner’s speech needs to focus on resolving the current impasse, too.

Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, who serves on the House Budget Oversight Committee, said Rauner on Wednesday may offer a two-year plan that includes granting him authority to move money around within this year’s budget to cover shortfalls in areas that aren’t protected by the courts, such as higher education.

“Because of the quicksand that we’re in … the governor is going to need a lifeline extended to him from the General Assembly, Democrats and Republicans, allowing him the authority to do budget transfers that none of us like,” Brady said. “But it’s going to have to be done if we’re going to try and have some form of a budget yet in this fiscal year.”

Although a similar solution was used to plug holes in last year’s budget after a temporary state income tax increase was allowed to partially roll back, Democrats appear unlikely to go along again this year.

Another issue on which there seems to be some consensus, both inside and outside state government, is that new revenue is needed to put the state on firmer financial footing.
In a report released Thursday, the Chicago-based Civic Federation, a nonpartisan budget watchdog, recommends: raising personal and corporate income tax rates back to their pre-rollback levels of 5 percent and 7 percent, respectively; taxing non-Social Security retirement income; expanding the sales tax on services; and temporarily removing the sales tax exemption for food and over-the-counter medicine, among other ideas.

These increases should be coupled with spending cuts aimed at paying down the state’s unpaid bills and other changes to deal with ballooning pension costs, according to the report.
“There is nothing politically attractive, there is nothing easy about what the state of Illinois faces,” said Laurence Msall, the organization’s president.

Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, said his organization has been making similar revenue recommendations for years.
“If you don’t do those things, you can’t solve your problem,” Martire said. “And that’s not ideological. That’s math.”

The Responsible Budget Coalition, a group of more than 250 social service agencies, labor unions and other organizations across the state, also is urging the state to “choose revenue.”
“We want to hear the governor say his No. 1 priority is a budget that invests in families and communities and that he won’t use them as leverage for his non-budget agenda,” said coalition spokesman Neal Waltmire.

Rep. Mike Smiddy, a Hillsdale Democrat, said what he doesn’t want to hear Wednesday is another recitation of Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda.”

“If he continues to bring out the issues time and time again, I think it’s going to be very difficult for the state,” Smiddy said.

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Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
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