Thursday, June 6, 2019

We get a state budget; legislators get pay raises. Ideologues get a migraine

Bruce Rauner really is gone. We truly are in a new era of state government.

PRITZKER: Signed a budget a month early?
For Gov. J.B. Pritzker didn’t even wait a full week before giving approval to a budget for Illinois’ Fiscal Year 2020 – which begins July 1.

PRITZKER SIGNED OFF Wednesday on the spending plan that will allow Illinois government to operate fully. He didn’t hesitate. Although the fact that the budget plan approved by the General Assembly was compiled largely by political allies means he didn’t have reason to expect the legislators would slip something in that would embarrass him.

Which led to Illinois being able to have a budget in place when the fiscal year begins.

That shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s what has become sad about Illinois government that it is. We had that two-plus year period during the Rauner years when no budget was in place.

Which caused problems for the ability of state government to operate, and which is largely responsible for the billions of dollars of a backlog that Illinois faces because during the Rauner years, the governor’s office was more concerned with approving measures meant to undermine organized labor – rather than ensuring that government could provide the services that were expected of it.

THERE WAS ONE uncertainty about the budget approval.

For it seems that legal language was inserted into the budget bill that provides for legislators themselves to get pay raises – the first ones they’ve received since back during the Blagojevich era in 2008.

In theory, Pritzker could have used his amendatory veto powers to delete that language – thereby leaving the base of the budget intact while removing the pay hike.

SKILLICORN: More interested in ideology
But Pritzker doesn’t sense the need to mess with the General Assembly – so he’s permitting their pay hike to go into effect.

FOR WHAT IT’S worth, the Legislature pays a base salary of $67,836 per year, and that will increase by $1,600 this year. In short, just under $70,000, which I’m sure some people would argue means they’re grossly underpaid.

But it should be noted the only people who earn that lowly level are the freshmen legislators – and the ones who are so untrusted by leadership that they’re not entrusted to be in positions of authority such as committee chairmanships or ranking minority party members.

So they’re really not underpaid. But it could be argued that, not having had an increase of any sort for 11 years, it was time for the pay scale to be adjusted.

It didn’t stop those in the Republican minority from ranting and raging and DEMANDING that Pritzker use the amendatory veto to delete the pay hikes.

TAKE THE VIEWPOINT of state Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, who said, “taxes are going up in Illinois to pay for the mismanagement of their money at the state level,” and added, “Legislators do not deserve a pay raise. Giving lawmakers a pay increase is a mistake that the governor can and should correct.”

He was amongst the legislators who either was delusional, or overly politically partisan, enough to say that Pritzker should use the amendatory veto. Even though Pritzker made it clear by Tuesday he fully intended to let the pay raises take effect when he signed off on a $40 billion state budget.

RAUNER: His era seems like centuries ago
With Pritzker saying it was “a highly negotiated budget” with both Democratic and Republican legislative support – implying it would be wrong for him to impose his will on the process.

Not that it should be surprising some people will want to complain. These are political people – after all. Perhaps being a partisan malcontent is just in their very nature. Although my guess is that their real objections is that their “side” didn’t do better back in the 2018 election cycle and their focus is more on 2020 than anything actually happening now.


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