Once the current budget impasse is settled, will politicians be able to avoid similar standoffs in the coming years?
Over the past month of budget meetings between legislative leaders and Gov. Bruce Rauner, the question has been raised as to how the current stalemate can be avoided with the current leadership in place.
Rauner believes putting his current agenda, such as term limits, redistricting, and changes to workers’ compensation into place during this fiscal year will help avoid future impasses.
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“Once we can get these reforms, I think the level of difficulty of coming up with solutions and growing the economy will be much less, so in future years I would anticipate much less difficulty in coming to some good solutions,” Rauner said.
House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) answered the question by offering the same advice he had repeated throughout 2015.
“Don’t do these things in the extreme, do them in moderation,” Madigan said. “There’s always another day. You don’t get something you want today, there’s tomorrow, there’s next year. We can come back on these things.”
The state is now halfway through the fiscal year with no budget in place, though passing a spending plan would now only require a simple majority in the legislature. Some lawmakers have indicated a final budget may not be passed until after the March primary. State Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) is advocating a two-year budget plan to put these issues to rest for a while.
“I don’t think we’re going to keep rehashing the same issues over and over again, but that was one of the reasons I called for a two-year budget was so that we just go through it once,” Batinick said. “It also takes the budgeting process as far as from the election process as possible, which I think would be a good thing.”
Lawmakers are set to return to Springfield on January 13, with Rauner scheduled to give his budget address on February 17.