After weeks of negotiations, Gov. Rauner and legislative leaders agreed to a solution during the week to patch a massive $1.6 billion hole in the current-year budget. The legislative package, which is contained in two separate bills, passed with strong bipartisan majorities in both chambers and is now headed to the Governor for his signature.
In 2014, Gov. Quinn and Democrat leaders knowingly approved an unbalanced budget that didn’t contain revenues necessary to fund state government for an entire fiscal year. The one-time emergency budget fix approved March 26 will plug the hole, while protecting the state’s top priorities from significant reductions in state assistance—without relying on tax hikes or new borrowing.
The legislative package will enable the Governor to move money around to patch holes in the current budget. A program to provide funding for daycare for working adults was the first to feel the pinch, but there wasn’t enough cash on hand to pay court reporters and prison guards as well. The budget fix plan passed by lawmakers March 26 funds the corrections workers, court reporters and child-care programs that would have otherwise suffered devastating shortfalls.
Senate Republicans stressed that going forward, the state needs real, fundamental reform, instead of continuing to rely on emergency measures and stop-gap solutions that have dominated state government for more than a decade.
Senator said the bipartisan, bicameral process that produced the current budget agreement should be used as a template for future negotiations. Working together, keeping the priorities of Illinois’ families in mind, and identifying areas to cut and reform will be critical to addressing the state’s most difficult challenges: a struggling jobs climate, a growing multi-billion dollar bill backlog, staggering pension debt, the nation’s worst credit rating, and some of the country’s highest property taxes.