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Wed, 17 May 2017
The Calendar Is Not Our Friend

As another effort at a Grand Bargain teeters, the calendar makes clear that time is working against a budget agreement. The State is six weeks away from the end of the fiscal year – that means Illinois is six weeks away from entering its third year as the state without a budget – a thoroughly unacceptable proposition for businesses, educators, social and human services providers and the taxpayers and clients they serve.

Here is what the calendar looks like:

Between now and May 31, the General Assembly needs a simple majority to pass a budget bill: 30 votes from the Senate, 60 votes from the House. After May 31, a super majority will be needed: 36 Senate votes and 71 House votes. The super majority requirement will exist for the rest of the calendar year. Even if a budget deal passes, it still needs the Governor’s signature. We all remember what happened the last time a state budget was sent to his desk.

In the meantime, political jockeying – especially at the gubernatorial level – is in full force. Political ads, media appearances, and rallies are in abundance and we are still 10 months from the primary.

Fast forward to January 1, 2018, and the good news is that the General Assembly returns to requiring a simple majority to pass legislation. But with the Illinois gubernatorial primary set for March 20, 2018, expectations are low that anything of significance will happen as politicians focus on getting votes; and that is likely to be their mind set until the general election.

And, then, we’re staring at another super majority vote requirement if no budget is passed by May 31, 2018. On July 1, 2018 we would be entering our fourth year as the state without a budget. Meanwhile, Illinois’ languishing bills exceed $13 billion, social service agencies are slashing programs and staffs and closing doors, universities are scrambling to stay afloat and keep students enrolled, and the state’s credit is headed to junk bond status swelling the cost of borrowing.

Unacceptable. The only way to describe the situation.
Posted 14:47

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