Despite superminority Republicans' complaints about Democrats' tactics, there's still plenty of time for action, even if the Illinois General Assembly adjourns on time May 31. GOP members have held two days' worth of news conferences to say the Democrats are not cooperating. Whether that's true, the Democrats have been discussing their own “budget.” That counters Gov. Bruce Rauner's stated plans, which have not resulted in his office backing any bills – for the budget or for anything else.
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The result could be: a Rauner budget, a lawmakers' budget, or somewhere in between. Veteran lawmaker State Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) says a fourth option could be a month-to-month plan “to keep things rolling could at least pass.” While the fiscal year begins July 1 and the state's first payroll is approximately July 11, “your biggest date is Aug. 13, when the school payment is due. That's when you'll get a lot of pressure.
“I expect we'll be back throught the summer,” Mautino adds.
An appropriations chairman, State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), says important questions go into budget-making. “Does the budget reflect a commitment to education (so graduates can) secure the jobs that are out there? Are there job training dollars in place? Are we making sure that our communities are going to be safe? Are we making sure that our people who have nobody looking out for them, whether they are kids who are wards of the state or living with autism or epilepsy – whether or not we are providing the support services they need to have a decent quality of life? It's about the priorities and the principles.”
Before anybody starts panicking, we'll let Mautino have the last words: “We are where we normally are at in this process.”