After having verified reports that he was not running for re-election on June 24th, has sent out this communication about what is happening in Springfield:
Illinoisans face the very real possibility that there will not be a comprehensive FY16 budget in place when the new fiscal year begins on July 1, but there have been some interesting developments over the last several days.
Pre-K-12 Education Bill Signed into Law
Last week on Wednesday, Governor Rauner signed HB3763, which makes FY16 appropriations for the Pre-K-12 Education part of next year’s budget. By signing that bill, he put funding in place to ensure that schools will open on time, teachers will get paid, and funding for General State Aid, Early Childhood Education and Bi-Lingual Education is in place for the next school year. Most importantly, by signing the bill, our state’s students are removed from the crossfire of this budget battle. Through HB3763, K-12 Education will see an increase in funding for FY16 of almost $300 million. Schools in District 66 will see a small increase in funding, with proration increasing to 92% from the 89% proration rate for FY15.
Governor Rauner Vetoes Remaining Budget Bills
The following day, citing the $4 billion deficit in the spending plan sent to him by House and Senate Democrats, the Governor issued full vetoes to the remaining budget bills. “For too long, the state of Illinois has made spending promises that exceed available revenues, relied on accounting gimmicks to make budgets appear balanced, used borrowing and cost deferral strategies to push costs into the future, and delayed payments to vendors,” Rauner said in his veto message.
Governor and AFSCME Reach One-Month Agreement
Later in the day on Thursday, representatives from the Governor’s office and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) issued a joint statement announcing a temporary, one-month agreement that prevents the possibility of a strike or lockout when the current AFSCME contract expires on June 30.
The agreement ensures that services will continue through the end of July while both parties continue to negotiate a new contract.
AFSCME represents more than 40,000 unionized state employees.
Democrats Continue to Block Budget Talks
Today, with just two days remaining in the fiscal year, we still have a budget stalemate. The Governor, acting on behalf of the Illinoisans who elected him to right the Illinois financial ship once and for all, is insisting that some cost-saving, waste-reducing and job-growing reforms be put in place before any talks of new revenue for the budget occur.
On the other side we have a House Speaker and a Senate President who have rejected all reform initiatives and only want to discuss a tax increase as a way to plug the budget hole. In his comments to the media, Speaker Madigan has chastised Governor Rauner and called him “extreme.” In response, Governor Rauner and the Republican Caucus have repeatedly asked the Democrats to return to the negotiation table so that a compromise deal can be found.
Rauner is Compromising, but is the House Speaker?
Over the last several weeks, as a gesture of compromise, Governor Rauner has removed some items tied to his “Turnaround Agenda” from the table. The signing of the Pre-K-12 portion of the budget last week was an additional, significant showing of compromise by a Republican Governor who said he would not sign an unbalanced FY16 budget. And by agreeing not to implement a “lockout” of the state’s AFSCME employees, Governor Rauner has shown again that he is willing to compromise and be reasonable during these difficult days. Just yesterday we learned that the Governor made an additional gesture of good will, by offering to accelerate $450 million in grant payments to the City of Chicago to help with a mandatory $634 million CPS pension payment dueTuesday, June 30. Those grants would normally be distributed to Chicago over the course of the fiscal year.
House Speaker Mike Madigan is sticking to his game plan of calling Governor Rauner “extreme,” when the Governor’s actions over the last several weeks paint a very different picture. The Governor has negotiated and compromised on several fronts. In response, Speaker Madigan has refused to budge. It is the Speaker who has been unyielding and extreme in his positions.
Political Theatre and Show Trials Continue as Services Face Shutdown
For the past month, House Republicans have gone to Springfield each week hoping that the Chicago Democratic leaders who have held up the budget process were going to finally return to the negotiation table. Instead we have been subjected to a series of disingenuous House hearings intended to do little more than further derail the process. It has been political theater at its’ worst; a categorical waste of time that is beneath my expectations. The public most certainly expects and deserves much, much more.
I will be back in Springfield this week on Tuesday and Wednesday, and we have been told that the Speaker’s agenda for the House once again does NOT include reform discussions or bringing a compromise budget to the floor for consideration. We have been told to expect two days of “Committee of the Whole,” where the Speaker will stage additional political stunts aimed at making Governor Rauner and House Republicans look bad.
If I were in charge of the General Assembly I would call the legislature into session and tell every Senator and Representative to notify their family that they will miss the 4th of July and the rest of the summer’s festivities too, if needed, and I would keep everyone in Springfield until a compromise budget is signed into law. The days of one-party rule are over, and the sooner Speaker Madigan accepts the mandate for shared policy-making and shared governance that was handed down by Illinois voters last November, the sooner we will have a budget in place that protects Illinois’ working families and provides services for our most vulnerable citizens.