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Thirty State Representataives have sent a letter to Governor Bruce Rauner asking him “to immediately engage with us on budget negotiations,” saying they believe there are “reasonable solutions” to the State’s financial crisis.
The State’s fiscal year began July 1, 2015, and, eight and one half months in, there is no sign of compromise to craft a budget. Not having a budget, the letter said, is “devastating for our universities, social service agencies, businesses, communities and the state.”
The State is responsible to provide for the “health, safety and welfare of the people; eliminate poverty and inequality; and assure legal, social and economic justice,” the letter said.
Many State bills, including salaries, are being paid, as the results of consent decrees and court rulings, but many social service agencies and public colleges and universities have not received promised funds.
A Republican, Gov. Rauner inherited a potential budget gap when he took office last January, since the temporary income tax increase lapsed almost at the same time he took office. Legislation leadership, Democrats Michael Madigan, House Speaker, and John Cullerton, Senate President, and the Governor have appeared equally obstinate in refusing to propose reinstatement of the income tax increase.
Gov. Rauner has linked his Turnaround Agenda to passage of a budget. Two foci of that agenda are weakening the power of unions and allowing – some would say “encouraging” – municipalities to seek bankruptcy protection. Yet there has not been widespread acceptance of that agenda.
“The impasse has gone on too long,” the Representatives’ letter said. “Our joint accomplishments over the past year have been achieved when we have collectively focused on individual issues that need to be addressed. As you stated in your State of the State Address, this is how we passed criminal justice and unemployment insurance reforms. We should do the same with the budget. Based on the number of local governments that have rejected the Turnaround Agenda, it is not presently a point of common ground.” The letter said the Representatives “are happy to consider” the Governor’s priorities separately from budget negotiations.
The Representatives said the appropriations committees are ready to develop a balanced budget, adding, “For seven months, businesses have been asking for stability and a long-term solution to the fiscal crisis in the state.”
The letter concluded, “For the sake of all the people of Illinois, our businesses, our communities and our children – let’s get it done.” Robyn Gabel, 18th District, and Laura Fine, 17th District, are among those who signed the letter. Rep. Gabel’s name is the first of the 30.