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Bipartisan group calls for state spending cap

tc 042618 2SPRINGFIELD – Over the past 10 years, state government spending has grown 25 percent faster than taxpayer income, with many claiming the government is spending faster than Illinoisans can afford.

To combat this issue, State Senators Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) and Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) are pushing a bipartisan proposal that would ensure Illinois' spending grows at a predictable rate that cannot be easily changed.

“Illinois needs to get its budget in order and that does not mean another tax increase,” Cullerton said. “Common sense dictates that you spend what you have. This bipartisan measure will help our state get on track toward responsible spending and force people to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. We need to work together to restore fiscal stability for families across Illinois.”

Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 21, sponsored by Cullerton, would cap growth in government spending at the rate of growth in Illinois’ economy, as measured by the average annual growth of per capita GDP over the preceding 10 years.

This plan would focus on smart growth that would allow government agencies to grow at a rate that taxpayers can afford. The legislation also includes a clause that allows for the General Assembly to override this spending cap in case of an emergency.

Connelly, chief co-sponsor of the measure, said he is tired of the state’s spending habits as well.

“It’s no secret, the state of Illinois has a spending problem,” Connelly said. “For more than a decade, spending has consistently outpaced state revenues. We cannot continue to go down this path of overtaxing and overspending. Both Democrats and Republicans know this, which is why we are coming together in a bipartisan manner to put forth legislation that underscores the dire need for balanced budgets and economic growth. This legislation is not only a way to restrain state government, but it’s also a sound economic reform that can fundamentally move Illinois forward.”

If Illinois approves this measure, it would join states like Maine and Washington, which have implemented statutory spending caps. States such as Texas and Tennessee have caps mandated by their state constitutions.

“The spending cap amendment is a commonsense solution to decades of bad budgeting practices. From 2005 to 2015 state spending grew 25 percent faster than taxpayers' personal income, and that's unsustainable,” said Adam Schuster, director of budget and tax research at the Illinois Policy Institute. “A spending cap would allow for a responsible and sustainable balanced budget without tax hikes and would provide clarity and certainty for lawmakers when it comes to how much revenue they have to spend. This spending cap is a positive step forward and will help put Illinois on a path toward fiscal health.”

Sen. Tom Cullerton


23rd Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations II; Labor; Local Government (Vice-Chairperson); State Government & Veterans Affairs; Transportation; Committee of the Whole; Energy and Public Utilities.

Biography: Born Sept. 20, 1969; studied at the University of Kansas; former village president and trustee of Villa Park; married (wife Stacey), three sons.