This week the action in the Illinois House was dominated by an attempt by Speaker Madigan and House Democrats to pass a so-called “lifeline” budget for human services and higher education.
I voted NO on this empty-promise filled spending plan. I am happy to explain why:
1. The Governor indicated he would veto the bill if it reached his desk. The bill did not pass with enough votes to override a Governor’s veto. Passing a spending bill knowing it will never become law is an empty promise.
2. The bill did not include a full year of funding. The amount of money appropriated to the Southern Illinois University system would amount to a 60% CUT, as it is likely that the money provided in HB 109 would be all the funding SIU would see in Fiscal Year 2018.
3. The Democrats’ spending plan contained more than $10 million in pork barrel projects for Chicago
legislators. Some of the money was earmarked for programs that either no longer exist or are ineligible to receive funding. Here are two egregious examples:
– $1.5 million for a Chicago Area Health and Medical Careers Program. This program has been disbanded. No employees work there and the program doesn’t exist any more.
– $265,000 each for an African American Family Commission and a Latino Family Commission. Neither entity is currently eligible to receive funds previously appropriated for FY17 due to noncompliance issues with reporting of how funds were previously spent.
At this point, you are right to ask yourself, “If Democrats were serious about funding higher education and human services, why would they include millions of dollars in spending for programs that either no longer exist or are ineligible to receive funding?”
The answer is because this wasn’t a serious attempt to fund higher education and human services.
This bill was about political theater. HB 109 was advanced so Speaker Madigan’s political organization can can paint Republicans as cruel and uncaring in upcoming political advertisements.
But, what’s truly cruel is for Democrats to make this type of empty promise to victims of domestic violence, persons with disabilities, and University staff, students, and administration and pretend that their vote means funding would actually make it to these folks that need it.
I have repeatedly said that I am ready and willing to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to find agreement on a budget that balances and fixes the long term issues facing our state while respecting the priorities of both Republicans and Democrats. The gotcha votes and the one-sided attempts at passing budgets must come to an end.
4. Voting to support the so-called “lifeline budget” would have stopped the movement of a real, fully-funded budget in the Senate. Last week, State Senator Bill Brady introduced fully-funded full-year budget with reforms, cuts, and revenue. The bill is currently being negotiated by Democrats and Republicans alike. I want to restate that point: The budget bill currently before the Senate is being worked on in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion.
The House adjourned on Friday for the next two weeks and the Senate is already adjourned until April 25th. The areas of disagreement in Senator Brady’s fully-funded, full-year budget are being hammered out over the next two weeks in advance of the House and Senate’s return to Springfield.
My office in Mt. Vernon is staffed Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is staffed Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. You can also contact me directly through the Contact Form on my website at www.repbryant.com – Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!