Illinois is coming up on almost three months with no state budget. A patchwork of programs is being funded under various court mandates and stopgap measures. But despite the fiscal crisis, the General Assembly hasn't been in session much at all this month. And, just as we've heard all summer, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislative leaders don't appear to be any closer to a solution.
Is there a bipartisan path out of the state's current mess?
"Enough is enough," said Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks. "It's a disgrace. It's embarrassing. There doesn't seem to be any sense of urgency. We've got Republicans following the governor, we've got Democrats blindly following Madigan. It's a recipe for disaster. We've got to stop following these guys. We're the ones who created this problem – we're the General Assembly. We're the ones who are supposed to give a balanced budget and we didn't do our job."
"The last thing that we need in this state is another tax increase," said Republican state Rep. David McSweeney. "We have a $6 billion deficit, and it's getting larger every day. Ninety-one percent of the spending is on auto-pilot, and the only people who are being really hurt by this are the truly needy. We're in an insane situation right now that we're only in a few days a month. People are getting hurt. People are talking about raising taxes. What we should do is come together and reach a budget agreement now. The governor, the leaders can't reach an agreement. That's why people who are the rank and file need to rise up. We're being paid $67,000 a year for a part-time job. We are not doing our job."
Politics is prohibiting a budget resolution, according to Franks.
“[Gov. Bruce Rauner] and [House Speaker Michael Madigan] don’t want to agree. This is all about politics,” Franks said. “This is the politics of making the other side lose so they look good. They don’t care about the taxpayers.”
“We need to get this over with,” McSweeney said. “And for Chicago, we need real reform within the CPS, but again the Cullerton proposal is not perfect but it’s a good start. It actually reamortizes the pension debt, it provides some normal cost relief, it gets rid of this cost shift idea altogether, and it has a property tax freeze.”
Watch the video to hear the full conversation between Carol Marin and lawmakers Franks and McSweeney.