Where We Go From Here

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May 31st is supposed to be the last day of the legislative session, but that deadline has been meaningless for the last two years. This year is no exception. I am beyond disappointed in our failure to find a solution yet again. Once again, we have failed to pass a budget and the carnage of this standoff shows more clearly every day. Our human services system has been nearly destroyed, our higher education institutions are hemorrhaging money and staff, and those least able to afford it are enduring most of the pain.

As work wound down on May 31st, Speaker Madigan announced that we would schedule public hearings of all the House Appropriations committees and keep the House in session in June to seek a resolution before the end of the State’s fiscal year on June 30. I would not have chosen this path. I forcefully advocated for my colleagues to take the politically risky but morally correct vote and send a balanced budget to the Governor. But passing a bill requires 60 votes, and there were not 60 members of either party willing to take that vote. Now that we are beyond the May 31st deadline, the rules require that anything we pass must get a super-majority to take effect immediately. This means that any budget we pass will require participation by the Republicans to get 71 votes.

I expect that the hearing schedule will be finalized shortly and will provide an update as soon as it is available. I want to believe that the Governor and Speaker Madigan understand that we cannot continue to destroy our state, piece by piece. I absolutely agree with a member of House Republican leadership who recently publicly stated that we have already done more damage to the state than any “reforms” can fix.

I will continue to advocate as forcefully as possible that it is past time to simply do the right thing and pass a budget, politics be damned.