Coming in at 500 pages with a more than $40 billion price tag, Illinois House Democrats passed a spending bill the governor’s office says is probably the most unbalanced budget in state history.
Republican Rep. Ron Sandack said Democrats are trying to throw cold water on the progress working groups are making on a framework for a budget and reforms. “We have made gains, rank-and-file people who represent our constituents. This amendment is a joke.”
Democratic Rep. Jay Hoffman said he will keep working on the reforms but the spending measure is needed to provide certainty. “Why do we want to take ourselves to the 11th hour while Rome is burning and we’re not going to know what to do next because our school districts, our universities, our public institutions, our social service agencies don’t have a spending plan?”
Republican Rep. Tom Demmer said if lawmakers included the court-ordered spending of some agencies, the state would put itself on the hook for historic spending levels. “What we’re proposing tonight for the first time in Illinois history will spend more than 40 billion in a single fiscal year.
The plan excludes entire state agencies that have payments mandated by the courts. Democratic Rep. Lou Lang blasted the governor for not seeking relief from the courts. “You can say we’re overspending but you better include when you’re talking about overspending the lack of action by the second floor of this building when regarding consent decrees.”
Comptroller Leslie Munger says the measure would double the state’s $7 billion bill backlog and delay payments by as much as 9 months.