Column: Fiscally sound budget deal still elusive in Springfield

cycling classic
(Image provided by Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce & Industry)

ELMHURST – I delayed sending my monthly President’s Message (for five days now) in hopes that I could report good news on the Democratic-controlled Illinois General Assembly and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner reaching a fiscally sound comprise on the state’s first budget in three years, but …

John Quigley

On our nation’s birthday, the Senate voted to override Gov. Rauner’s veto of a House of Representative’s $36.1 billion budget that include income tax hikes on both businesses (from 5.25 percent to 7 percent) and individuals (from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent). Without any tax increases, state revenues projected at only $31.5 billion.

Unfortunately, the political games – particularly between Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and Gov. Rauner – have continued well past the June 30 Fiscal Year End, despite the surprising June 29 resignation of Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, who felt wedged between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

As I forecasted in my May President’s Message, negotiations by both chambers with Gov. Rauner failed to reach a “Grand Bargain” on a state budget by the 100th Spring Session’s May 31 conclusion, requiring a three-fifths majority to pass bills in an extended session.

Instead of a simple majority, a budget plan now required Republican support to reach the 71 votes needed to pass out of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, which adopted a resolution to remain in “continuous session” to work on a budget deal.

Stop-gap funding for social service agencies and state universities ran out Jan., 1 and the state’s backlog of unpaid bills has now grown to $14.7 billion.

Last week, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed three budget-related bills negotiated with their Republicans counterparts that stalled in the House, although a revenue bill featuring an income tax hike and a new sale tax on business services meant to generate $5 billion in additional income cleared a House Committee earlier last week.

Illinois has now “operated” without a budget in place for more than 700 days.

John Quigley is president and CEO of the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce and Industry