OP-ED: Your televisions, mailboxes and newspapers have been bombarded recently with information about the ongoing state budget stalemate in Springfield.
As freshmen members of the Illinois House of Representatives, we offer our perspective; hopefully a fresh perspective on the vexing challenges, that have us approaching the July 1 deadline without a full state budget.
We are certain you would ask yourself, why can’t reasonable people come up with a budget that doesn’t spend more than we bring in? After all, there will never be enough funds for everything. We all live with that reality in our household budgets. We all prioritize our spending and cut where needed. Simply put, we prioritize our spending, why can’t Springfield?
That’s a fair question. What stops politicians from living within their means? Or more precisely, within your means—because it is your money.
The answer is quite simple.
Politicians like to make people happy.
It is far easier to say “yes” than to say “no” on spending programs. Saying yes rarely upsets anyone. The problem only arises when you say “no.” Politicians who want to stay in office, say yes. They say yes, a lot. They say yes, and hope that people won’t figure out until much later that they over drafted the bank account by saying yes too many times.
However, our point of view of saying “yes,” when you don’t have the money to keep your promise, is cruel. It is cruel to let people think you’ve funded their program when you know there isn’t money to do so. It is cruel to pit one good cause against another and not be truthful that someone is going to lose out. And it is wrong to pass such a budget and force Governor Bruce Rauner, who didn’t create this mess, to veto it and then blame him for the sins of the past.
But that is exactly what House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and his allies have done when they passed a three billion dollar unbalanced deficit budget.
It is time to respect the people of Illinois and say “no.”
Tell them the truth. We can’t fund all the programs and, yes, to tell some that their program cannot be afforded and isn’t as high a priority as other programs. Telling hard truths like that is to show real respect for people.
In voting against an unbalanced budget, the House Republicans said “No” and in doing so, showed real respect for the people of the State of Illinois.
On June 24th and 25th, the Governor did the same thing. He prioritized education and vetoed the remainder of the budget. He signed the K-12 education component of the state budget into law, taking our children’s education out of the crossfire in Springfield.
This is a good start, but much more remains to be done. What needs to now be done is the real work of prioritizing the remainder of our budget.
We believe now is the time for Speaker Madigan and his allies to put the interests of Illinois taxpayers first and work with the Governor and Republicans to pass a truly balanced budget that protects our working families, seniors and school children, especially those with special needs.
Doing what we can to protect the most vulnerable in our society is a common goal, and one we can work together toward by making meaningful reforms.
State Rep. Steve Andersson (R-Geneva), State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), State Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield), and State Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville)
(*Note to Political Insiders: The Illinois Observer also offers our exclusive, subscriber-only e-newsletter – The Insider – to, well, Illinois political insiders. Each Tuesday and Friday at 6:00 a.m. The Insider arrives in e-mail boxes with the choicest Illinois, Cook County, and Chicago political gossip, insider information, and news tips. For more information and a free, 4-week trial subscription to The Insider, please go here).