HARRISBURG, IL - Budget inaction was the end result as the Illinois General Assembly adjourned the regularly-scheduled spring session just short of midnight on May 31, according to State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg).
Senate Republicans took a strong stance against the unbalanced, potentially unconstitutional budget measures that were advanced on a "party-line" vote on May 23. Senator Fowler was disheartened by the lack of budget and is ready to return to Springfield to settle the budget impasse to achieve much-needed fiscal stability in Illinois.
After a series of May 23 votes by the Illinois Senate on a package of bills dealing with Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 budgets, the Illinois House of Representatives failed to take any final budget action during the final week of session.
Senator Fowler and his Senate Republican colleagues had been engaged in meaningful talks on fiscal and business reforms to make Illinois more competitive, when the Senate majority broke off talks more than a week ago. Beginning with a 2003 takeover of the Illinois Senate, the Senate majority has failed to pass balanced budgets, inaction that has given rise to the now two year-plus budget impasse.
In order for Illinois to get back on a good fiscal footing, budget balancing and job-creating reforms must be incorporated. Additionally, an appetite for creating new governmental programs continues by legislative majorities through either expansions of current programming or through the most common practice of making legislation "subject to appropriation." Such language is commonly inserted into legislative measures to create a place-holder in upcoming budgets for government expansion.
Senator Fowler expressed his hope that the legislative majorities would return to the negotiating table during the upcoming "continuous" sessions that will occur.
Faulty School-funding Formula Passes
Senate Bill 1, passed the General Assembly late on May 31. The measure is a short-sighted attempt to fix Illinois' nearly 20-year-old school funding formula which is widely considered to be the most inequitable in the nation. The latest attempt to fix the funding formula is nothing more than a thinly-veiled bailout for the mismanaged Chicago Public Schools. CPS students would receive $1,333 more per student, while many school districts in Southern Illinois would receive tiny fractions of the proposed funding. A whopping 70 percent of new education dollars would be pumped into the Chicago schools by skewing the formula to make the city of Chicago look much poorer than it is.
The remaining 30 percent would be split among the remaining 851 school districts statewide. Senator Fowler believes that this new distribution would be unfair to Southern Illinois students and as a result, downstate taxpayers would be saddled with yet another special deal for Chicago.