If one didn’t pay attention to the details, Thursday at the Statehouse in Springfield, Ill., felt a bit like the old days.
Back when the General Assembly used to have its session run until the very end of the fiscal year, and their final action would be the political maneuvering to get a budget enacted for the new fiscal year that would begin the very next day.
FOR THAT IS what happened on Thursday – Fiscal 2016 came to an end and both the Illinois House and state Senate approved a budget that will ensure state government continues to operate.
Gov. Bruce Rauner even signed off on the deal late in the day.
Of course, there’s just one problem. The budget they passed is for the 2017 fiscal year which begins Friday. The 2016 fiscal year will officially go into the record books as the one in which partisan politicking prevented anything from getting passed.
For what it’s worth, what got passed on Thursday is only an interim budget of sorts – it covers the costs of government operations through Dec. 31. The second half of Fiscal ’17 will have to be resolved in the future.
IT TRULY IS a stop-gap measure meant to let government officials claim they brought an end to the year-long political stalemate, without doing a damned thing to change the partisan hang-ups that caused the problem to begin with!
Which in a sense means the state government hasn’t really solved the problem. What both sides are hoping for is that something will happen during the elections to be held Nov. 8 that will strengthen their political stances.
Meaning they won’t have to concede a thing and the other side will have to bend over and take a symbolic spanking from the electorate.
Come January, the problems we have had for the past year will all come back.
IF ANYTHING, IT might well have been more honest if the various factions had continued to be stubborn and hold out. Nobody is willing to make the concessions that might well have been needed to resolve the state’s financial situation.
Certainly, Rauner has no intention of backing off of his desires to implement a series of measures meant to undermine the influence of organized labor and unions within state government.
It most likely means he’ll now focus his attention on trying to bolster the position of his political allies within the General Assembly – who currently are so weak that it is the reason Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and other Dems were able to openly defy the governor.
Then again, when one has the veto-proof majority over both chambers of the Legislature, it is the ultimate of arrogance to think they can push the assembly around and tell it to do anything.
IT WILL BE intriguing to see if there are significant changes in the caucuses of the Legislature of either political party. Will Republicans become a presence that has muscle to be able to back up the governor’s demands? Or will Democrats gain more strength?
Personally, I don’t expect there to be significant change as a result of the Nov. 8 elections. The dynamic will remain similar.
Which means the ugliness and vapidity that we have endured for the past 12 months will be resurrected come Jan. 1. The politicking will return. The next few months of business-as-usual will be an illusion. And the idea that anything of significance was resolved on Thursday will be the ultimate joke on the public.
It is why state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, and his slip-of-the-tongue comment about the “stop gap” budget being "stopped up" instead may well be the most honest words spoken this week by a politician. Constipation is truly what I feel these days when I think of state government.