Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Are we 14 days shy of deadline? Or did we miss it by 10 ½ months?

In two weeks, we will be at the beginning of June. The General Assembly will have finished its business for the current fiscal year and our legislators will be engaged in what I’m sure they will claim to be a well-deserved summer break.


BECAUSE THE REALITY is that we still don’t have the budget proposal for the 2016 fiscal year that began back on July 1, 2015, nor do we seem to be anywhere near to having a budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year that will begin this July.

We have a Legislature that’s trying to take on a very difficult task of compiling spending plans for two fiscal years; one of which is nearly complete and because money has been spent already there just isn’t much leeway for creating budgetary actions.

There are some people who remain optimistic, but a part of me wonders if we’re going to seriously go at least part of the way into Fiscal 2017 with unresolved financial issues from the previous year AND the current year.

All of this pops into my mind because Gov. Bruce Rauner met privately with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and the other legislative leaders on Tuesday so the sides could talk about what can be done to make sense of state government finances.

SOME WORD EMANATED from the Statehouse in Springfield that there will be further talks about property tax freezes, pension reforms and worker’s compensation changes.

Of course, it could be merely talk. No promises that any actions will be taken on those issues.

It also shouldn’t be ignored that Madigan insisted on issuing a written statement that continues to lay blame for the ongoing dispute on Rauner, what with his desires to undermine organized labor in Illinois and demand that changes be included along with the budget talks.

“The governor’s continued insistence on passage of his agenda that hurts the middle class is a clear indication he is not interested in passing and implementing comprehensive, full-year budgets that do not decimate needed services relied upon by the people of Illinois,” the speaker said.

OF COURSE, THERE also were activist-types at the Statehouse determined to lay blame on Madigan for his defense of the organized labor interests that, admittedly, are the reason why he is in a position of authority in the first place.

We have a stalemate because everybody is convinced it’s somebody else’s fault. Everybody seems more interested in scoring political points, rather than trying to put together the budgetary plan that would allow state government to operate at full strength.

Instead of under the court orders that allow some agencies to operate out of necessity while others sputter to a halt due to a lack of funds.

If anything, the Capitol Fax newsletter out of Springfield may have summarized the political situation best when it quoted soon-to-be former state Rep. Jack Franks in saying, “both sides suffer under the delusion that it’s okay that real people get hurt as long as the other side gets blamed for it.”

WHICH COULD BE part of the reason why long-time legislator Franks is leaving the Statehouse scene – hoping to become a member of the McHenry County Board in the far northwest suburbs.

You kind of have to wonder what kind of person wants to stick around state government when it’s caught up in an inability to get anything done.

It is the current situation that has driven down Rauner’s approval ratings, along with those of Madigan and the Legislature as a whole

It’s an unending cycle without a light at the end of the tunnel. Not even one from the freight train headed their way to plow them over!


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