- Published: Friday, June 03, 2016 03:15 PM
As you likely know by now, the spring legislative session in Springfield ended on more of a whimper than a bang just before midnight Tuesday.
The House and Senate failed to agree on a spending plan to send to the governor. The Senate passed an education-only bill, and the House passed a more comprehensive plan.
Both were seriously flawed: the Senate's because it only would fund elementary and secondary education – notwithstanding the decimation that higher education and human services have undergone after we enacted only a K-12 budget last year – and the House's because it was dramatically out of balance.
I voted against the Senate plan because I am strongly opposed to repeating the harmful mistakes of last year, and I voted for the House plan in spite of its significant shortcomings because I thought it better to put something on the governor's desk than simply to go back to square one.
In any case, both failed and square one is where we are.
The inability of Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly to reach a budget agreement by the May 31 deadline is a shameful and embarrassing outcome to an already harmful situation. Real damage is being done, and real people are being harmed by the intransigence. Recent news has made clear that this is having significant economic impact: Illinois now has the highest unemployment rate in the country.
I have an op-ed in the Springfield State Journal-Register this week that addresses this problem and suggests ways in which I think Democrats could act to move us past the impasse. I certainly remain committed to doing everything I can to move us toward a sustainable budget that is honest and fair – and to doing it without harming the most vulnerable or the middle class.
As unacceptable as the situation is, I remain hopeful that there are constructive paths out of it. I will be working hard to move us down those paths, and I expect we'll be in Springfield regularly until we achieve a better outcome. I'll keep you posted throughout.
In the meantime, we were able to make some progress on legislative items, and I am pleased to share some positive news with you below.
As always, please feel free to stay in touch by emailing me or calling my office at 847-568-1250.