Republican lawmakers have been working for more than a year in bipartisan and bicameral negotiations to pass a balanced budget and meaningful economic reforms to expand job opportunities, fix a corrupt political system and mend a failing state economy.
Democrat leaders are hoping to delay the Fiscal Year 2017 budget until after the election in November, putting at risk schools, prisons, mental health facilities and other human service programs. Barring an immediate resolution of the stalemate, Republican lawmakers have joined the Governor in saying a passage of a stop-gap budget is the most responsible course of action right now.
Ensuring schools can open in the fall is the most pressing issue, and Republican lawmakers have introduced measures (Senate Bill 3434/House Bill 6583) that would ensure General State Aid for K-12 schools would be fully funded for the first time in seven years.
The legislation includes an additional $105 million to “hold harmless” schools that would have received less state aid in Fiscal 2017 than they received during Fiscal Year 2016. The measures would also end the practice of “proration”—the deliberate underfunding of the General State Aid that schools should receive—that has taken place the last seven years.
A second part of the Republican stop-gap budget solution (Senate Bill 3435/House Bill 6585) will ensure state correctional facilities, universities, and basic government operations are funded through the end of the calendar year.
Republican legislators have said there is available revenue associated with these plans, unlike the out-of-balance budget forced through by House Democrat leaders in May, which spends $7 billion more than the state takes in and would force a massive tax hike on every Illinois family.
Republican lawmakers will not support the continuation of the reckless and irresponsible spending that has been a hallmark of Illinois fiscal policy for the last dozen years, and is the reason Illinois finances are in such a terrible mess.