As you may know the State of Illinois is currently facing a budget crisis. This year, the General Assembly did not complete its work by the May 31st deadline. The Illinois Constitution outlines some very basic responsibilities for the Illinois General Assembly. Among these is the charge that a balanced budget must be approved each fiscal year. This year, the Chicago Democrats that control the legislature passed a budget that was $4 billion out of balance.
For months, my Republican colleagues and I have pleaded with legislative leaders from Chicago and their Democrat allies in the General Assembly to enact reasonable reforms to the way Illinois government functions. The old way of doing business has left us with over $5 billion in past due bills, a $4 billion dollar budget deficit for the 2016 fiscal year, and $100 billion plus in unfunded pension liabilities. $5 billion here, $4 billion there, $100 billion over there…I mean c’mon folks, enough is enough!
Now that we have officially begun the 2016 fiscal year with no budget or spending authority, many questions linger about payments for critical services and state employees. Clearly, something must be done quickly to save programs like child care, home health services, public safety programs and human services for the elderly and individuals with physical and developmental disabilities.
It is important to remember how we arrived at this point. From 2002-2014, Chicago Democrats controlled the Governorship, and held strong majorities or even super majorities in both chambers of the legislature. The Blagojevich years were marked by the General Assembly inflating its expected revenue numbers to match a spending wish list.
These out of balance budgets resulted in years of failure by the State to pay its obligations and begun this downward financial spiral.House Republicans warned for years of dire financial consequences if efforts weren’t undertaken to curb government spending.
However, spending accelerated under the watch of Governor Quinn. To pay for new largesse, Chicago Democrat leaders and their legislative allies passed the largest tax increase in history. At the time, they argued that raising taxes was necessary because Illinois stood at the brink of financial insolvency. Debts needed to be paid and services needed saving.
It is disappointing yet not surprising that the revenue raised from that ‘temporary’ income tax increase was not used to catch up on old bills and put the state back on a better financial footing. Instead, the size and scope of Illinois government and its financial obligations grew. The Chicago political bosses broke their promise and no dent was made in the Democrats’ debt.
With that history as a backdrop, this year Democrats in the General Assembly passed yet another out of balance budget. This time, they admitted that their ‘spending plan’ deficit was nearly $4 billion dollars.
Fast forward to today. Governor Rauner has now vetoed all but one piece of the Democrats’ unbalanced and unconstitutional budget. Where we stand now is at the edge of a fiscal canyon.In spite of the lack of a real, agreed-to budget, I will continue to call for vital services to be maintained.
I will continue to call for all state employees to be paid on time and in full. I am proud to have signed on this week to legislation that could potentially provide payment for some critical services and for state employees. HB 4235 wouldn’t increase spending. It would pay currently employed state and university employees what they are entitled to. They are reporting to work. They should be paid!
There are currently efforts underway by Comptroller Munger and Attorney General Lisa Madigan to get clarification from our courts on the laws that determine who and what can be paid in the event that no budget is in place.
As we have done all summer, I will head back to Springfield next week. I will continue my call for both sides to come to the table and engage in diplomacy and negotiation. The collateral damage caused by a stubborn Democrat refusal to reform the old way of doing business in Illinois is staggering and unnecessary. It’s time that Chicago politicians own up to their failures and agree to fix our broken and corrupt system.
District Listening Tour and Office Hours
|Rep. Bryant spent time in Carbondale recently meeting with
constituents. Residents expressed concerns on a wide variety
of topics, including the FY 2016 budget.
While I continue to be called to Springfield to attend overtime sessions throughout the summer, there have been and will continue to be opportunities to meet with me to discuss your concerns. Recently, my staff and I have hosted traveling office hours and a listening tour in Anna, Carbondale, and Mt. Vernon. It is my pleasure to speak with you about your opinions on the issues and I am humbled and grateful to serve you in Springfield.
My offices in Murphysboro and Mt. Vernon are open every week to help you navigate the red tape of Illinois government.
Please stay tuned to my website www.repbryant.com for updates on upcoming events and for information on more office hours and listening tour availabilities.
|Rep. Bryant appears with leadership from the DuQuoin Elks and
VFW organizations to present the DuQuoin Elks with a new flag.
DuQuoin Elks Flag Dedication
On Thursday, I was honored to present a flag that was flown above the State Capitol to the DuQuoin Elks. On the eve of the 4th of July weekend, I was proud to be a part of the flag retirement and dedication ceremony that honors our flag.I want to thank Pete Patalas and the leadership of the DuQuoin Elks and VFW for inviting me to participate.
Senior Citizens Expos in July
You may have already seen this in your mailbox, but I am pleased to announce that I will host two opportunities for Senior Citizens to enjoy a wide range of free screenings and services during my two Senior Expos in July. Details can be found below and at my website www.repbryant.com. I hope to see you there!
Carbonale Senior Citizens Expo
When: Thursday, July 16 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Where: Carbondale Civic Center, Carbondale, IL
Mt. Vernon Senior Citizens Expo
When: Tuesday, July 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Where: Rolland Lewis Building, Mt. Vernon, IL
Summer Reading Club Program
Just a reminder, I am offering my first annual Summer Reading Club for students in Kindergarten through 4th grade this summer.
For more information or to print a flyer, please visit: My Summer Reading Program Website