A Look Back – Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Fix
On Thursday last week, the legislature adjourned for a two week Spring break. Before adjourning session, both the House and Senate passed legislation that would patch a $1.6 billion hole in the current fiscal year’s budget.
Much has been made in the news about the fix for FY 15. The truth is there were no good options. However, I believe the bill that was passed was responsible for a couple of important reasons. First, we accomplished a fix for the budget without raising taxes. Second, we did not borrow money and go further into debt to plug the budget hole.
The State of Illinois, already facing a $1.6 billion operating deficit, also has anywhere between $5 billion and $7 billion in unpaid bills for services already provided. Add that to the fact that the state also has over $100 billion in pension liability and the prospect of borrowing more money seems laughable.
All Republican members of the House and Senate voted for the budget fix legislation. Last year’s budget, signed into law by former Governor Pat Quinn contained only about half as much revenue as was needed to fund the spending planned in the budget. After the tax increase rolled back in January, a crisis that was predicted long ago began to emerge.
Instead of allowing child care providers, court reporters, and front line prison staff to go unpaid, Governor Rauner and House and Senate Republicans stepped up to the plate and got a deal done. Working families, child care providers and the children that receive care in these facilities are largely dependent on state funding. I was pleased that the subsidy for these important services could be saved with this action. While the law isn’t perfect, it does plug the hole and balances the budget for the rest of the fiscal year.
When we return to session on April 13, work will begin on finding a way to bridge an exponentially larger budget gap. Experts estimate the shortfall for next fiscal year to be anywhere between $5 billion and $7 billion dollars.
I look forward to hearing from you as negotiations on the FY 16 budget begin in earnest. With such a large gap in expected revenues and planned spending, more cuts will surely be on the table. I want to know your opinion about what government programs you want to see saved, and which ones you think the state should reduce or eliminate.
We must get our fiscal house in order to restore our state’s financial integrity and give businesses the stable environment they need to invest here and grow jobs.
A Look Ahead
This week I will host traveling office hours in Anna. My staff and I will be at the Shawnee College Extension Center at 1150 E. Vienna Street on Wednesday April 1st from 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. For an appointment, please call my office at 618-242-8115. You can also reach me using the contact form on my website at www.repbryant.com
Next week I will host two legislative update events. These will be informal opportunities to meet with me and my staff and hear about more that’s going on in Springfield. All are invited to attend, and I’ll even buy the coffee! Please stop by either of these locations next week and say hello. I would love to hear from you.
Monday April 6th
Red Hawk Golf Course
6205 IL 154, Tamaroa IL 62888
1:00 p.m – 3:30 p.m.
Wednesday April 8th
13427 Ewing Road
Whittington, IL 62897
1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.