Ill. State budget update

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25)

So what would you do if your family debt increased by nearly three-fold in the last two years? And what would you do if the interest payments owed your creditors could, by themselves, sink the family bank account?

Welcome to the state of Illinois.

The members of the Illinois General Assembly finally said enough is enough. The state cannot go on hemorrhaging red ink. With $15 billion in debt and interest amounting to $800 million a year, nearly thirty percent of the Republican caucus in the Illinois House of Representatives joined with a majority of House Democrats to send the Governor spending and revenue bills intended to staunch the bleeding.

The Governor, as threatened, vetoed the bills. Most of our GOP allies stood with us on the override vote.

Of course it’s about numbers—how do we spend, how much do we spend, how much is available to spend? But it’s also about people, people who have borne the brunt of the budget crisis in Springfield over the last two years. If you’re a senior who’s depended on meals on wheels, those meals might not have made it to your door. If you’ve been the victim of domestic violence, the shelter you seek may have already shuttered its doors. If you’re a victim of sexual assault, you, too, are likely to be out of luck. Higher education? Public college and universities have not seen a penny of state support since December 31, 2016.

I have trouble understanding the Governor’s argument. He thinks we need to impose term limits on legislators and make major changes in the laws covering workers’ compensation before adopting a budget in order to make Illinois economically competitive. But there is no respectable research suggesting states with term limits are more attractive to businesses than those without. And while we’ve made overtures to the Governor on the issue of worker’s compensation, it seems to be his way or the highway. Two well-respected business organizations, the Civic Federation and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, agree that the first priority is a responsible state budget, which includes new revenues.

I’m grateful to my GOP legislative colleagues. Digging our way out of our fiscal problems will neither be quick nor easy. It will take time to right the ship of state.

But the good news is that we’re not digging the hole even deeper.

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25)