Senate budget leaders: GOP plan offers no revenue

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In a morning news conference today, two of the Senate Democrats’ top budget leaders highlighted the incomplete, severely unbalanced concepts put forth by Gov. Brucer Rauner and his Republican allies. The package that Republicans have touted as compromise is at least $5 billion out of balance because there is no legislative initiative — no revenue plan — to make their $35 billion spending desires whole.

“Everybody can come in and talk about how they want to spend money,” says Revenue Committee Chair Sen. Toi Hutchinson. “But, almost nobody wants to talk about where that money is going to come from. Senate Democrats have already walked that talk, while the Republicans have no revenue proposal — making their claims for compromise empty at best.”

Since January, Senate Democrats have worked in good faith with Republicans to forge a true, negotiated compromise that balances the budget through $3 billion in tough cuts and new revenue. In May, well before the scheduled adjournment deadline, a comprehensive, balanced budget plan that met Rauner’s requested spending level and the necessary income tax rate increase that he says would be needed. That proposal, along with a long list of budget (and non-budget) reforms was passed to the Illinois House of Representatives, where it awaits negotiation from Republican and Democratic leaders.

Appropriations I Committee Chair Sen. Heather Steans says that the Republicans’ absence of real, tangible legislation to complete a balanced budget undercuts their passionate calls for unity. House Republicans should not delay in authoring and sponsoring those initiatives as amendments to the Senate revenue legislation that waits action.

“Everyone has the goal of providing predictability, stability and financial security for everyone in the State,” says Steans. “The proposal that passed the Senate does just that. Which is why, if Republicans are serious, they must file changes to our plan, vote on it, and send it back to us for consideration.”

While they reinforced that the Senate’s heavy lifting was already completed in May, they also say they are willing to engage with House members from both sides to have good-faith discussions regarding the comprehensive, balanced budget plan that they negotiated throughout the past six months.

In his Special Session orders, Rauner called legislators back to Springfield to address education funding reform, workers’ compensation reform, government consolidation, procurement (purchasing) reform, pension reform, property tax reform, term limits and a balanced budget. Although the governor insisted that Republicans stall the efforts, the Illinois Senate passed this comprehensive list of reforms to the Illinois House in May.