balanced budget now

During the past few weeks, the Illinois Senate has been holding subject matter hearings with state agencies under the governor’s control to determine where, if possible, they can cut expenses to bridge a $5 billion gap in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget.

Time and time again, the agency directors failed to offer any cuts they could make to balance the governor’s budget.

The governor’s allies insist his budget is balanced. My question to them is this: If Gov. Rauner proposed a balanced budget, why hasn’t he filed legislation for lawmakers to review and vote upon?

Under Article 8, Section 2 of the Illinois Constitution, the governor must submit to the General Assembly a budget which “shall set forth the estimated balance of funds available for appropriation at the beginning of the fiscal year.”

Rather than doing his job and presenting a balanced budget, the governor wants the legislature to give him the unilateral, unchecked authority to make whatever cuts he wants to fill his $5 billion gap.

That doesn’t sound like a balanced budget proposal to me. He wouldn’t need to make cuts if he had submitted a balanced budget.

The Senate was working on a bipartisan plan to address the budget stalemate and to find a resolution for some of the state’s most pressing problems. Gov. Rauner chose to stand in the way of our progress.

I remain ready to compromise on a budget that makes sense for Illinois. Under Gov. Rauner, the state’s backlog of unpaid bills has climbed to nearly $13 billion. That’s bad for the state and it’s bad for the economy.

Social service agencies, including the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood house, which is vital to hundreds of families throughout our community, faces closure because of the state budget crisis. The state lacks a capital improvements program for highway and infrastructure projects, which means men, women and local companies are losing out on contracts and job opportunities.

The consequences of Gov. Rauner’s continued mismanagement of state government are real and harmful. After two years of failing to enact a state budget, it’s time for the governor to do his job.

If he believes his budget is balanced, he should draft it into legislation and present it to the General Assembly for a vote as the Constitution requires.

Anything less is a failure to do the job he was elected to do. I urge you to call the governor’s office and tell him to do the job.


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