Illinois state lawmakers have incentive to solve budget rather than play politics

Stalling tactics could suggest no budget deal untl after next election

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - Indecision, indifference and inability.

These are all ways to describe what we've seen from the Illinois state legislature over the last two plus years when it comes to adopting a budget.

There still isn't one.

We're close to getting through a third straight legislative session with no real spending plan in place.

It didn't get any better when Governor Bruce Rauner made a whirlwind tour across the state that included a quick stop in Rock Island. He called it a political trip that didn't use any taxpayer money. He didn't call it a campaign stop and wouldn't say he's running for re-election despite depositing $50 million of his own money into his campaign account.

There was more talk of "Turnaround Agenda" items like freezing property taxes and another push for term limits.

He says he's for a budget compromise, but opposes tax increases. However, that's the area where there needs to be compromise. And, it's one where he's waffled.

Rauner has been on the record of being in favor of a higher tax on sugary drinks and says he would go along with adjusting the state income tax.

Yet, when push comes to shove on the so-called "Grand Bargain" in the Illinois Senate, there's no deal.

Democrats point the finger at the governor for getting in the way of Republicans from moving it forward. So here we are with unkept promises.

A state backlog of unpaid bills at $13 billion and plenty of posturing for the next election almost two years away. That's politics at the expense of Illinois taxpayers.

One man with one vote in the task to get the state's finances is Democratic State Representative Mike Halpin of Rock Island County.

He discussed the issues during an appearance on 4 the Record.

Halpin and his Republican counterpart from this area, Representative Tony McCombie, have only been on the job for a little more than three months.

It's hard to put the blame them given how long this has been going on.

Halpin shared what the signs are we'll see a budget by the end of the legislative session based on what he's seen. He addressed where there is movement and what areas are holding up a deal.

We see Democrats blame Republicans. Republicans blame Democrats. The people blame all of them.

Halpin responded when asked why don't lawmakers realize that the blame game doesn't help or work.

We saw both parties gamble on the last election with the stop gap budget and promised something would be done after that. This is definitely shaping up to be an election issue next year.

Halpin says there is incentive for the two sides to get a deal done now because too many agencies are struggling and areas of education don't know what to expect financially without a deal.

There was a glimmer of hope in the Senate's "Grand Bargain." Democrats and Republicans were on board until the recent stall. Let's say it regains momentum and clears the Senate.

Halpin doesn't know what chance it would stand in the House and get Speaker Mike Madigan's blessing.

However, he'd like to see it get to the house where it can at least be debated and altered if necessary.


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