Illinois lawmakers only have until midnight May 31 to approve a state budget and spending plan that is balanced and funds all of the programs the state needs to run efficiently. The House and Senate Democratic majorities very likely will approve one, but it will be rejected, in whole or in part, by the Republican governor because it will spend more than the state's taxpayers are required to give, at the moment.
Then, we citizens will sweat it out into June, July, and perhaps August, as 30-year House Speaker Michael Madigan and veteran private equity dealmaker Gov. Bruce Rauner try out outlast and outmaneuver each other.
Madigan held one of his rare, classic press conferences Monday to explain for the media and taxpayers his approach.
Here's why the whole exercise is fruitless and we, my fellow citizens, are the suckers being played for the fools we apparently are:
1. Madigan reminded all within earshot that when Rauner first gave his state budget address, which did indeed include more than $2 billion in pension savings that were unlikely to be achieved, that the Speaker called it "reckless" then and has been calling it "reckless" since.
2. Then the Speaker proceeded to tell reporters that he consistently has said Illinois needs a balanced approach of both spending cuts and new revenue. Therefore, he said, House and Senate Democrats will work this week to pass a budget for next year that spends more than $3 billion more than the state takes from taxpayers.
3. So, you might logically ask, if Rauner's budget with $2 billion in phantom savings was "reckless," what does that make Madigan's admittedly out-of-whack $3 billion-plus budget? Extremely reckless? (Actually, it appears to be closer to a $4 billion hole.)
4. Rauner chose to create and manage secret, closed-door working groups on the budget and other key pieces of legislation he sought as part of his plan to do things differently, shake up Springfield and turn around Illinois. Differently how? Before Madigan took to the podium on Memorial Day, though, Rauner's office had issued a statement suggesting Madigan was walking away and "doubling down on a broken budget and massive tax hike."
5. That statement was followed by more of the same from the House and Senate Republican leaders, as well as the Illinois Republican Party.
Check out three more reasons why Illinoisans are really the ones to get the short end of the budget stick at Reboot Illinois.
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