Batinick on budget impasse: 'Everyday the situation becomes more and more dire'
Gov. Bruce Rauner' s speech Tuesday night on unity and the importance of passing a state budget stressed a sentiment of urgency Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) says the General Assembly should have been feeling all along.
“We needed a budget five months ago," Batinick told Will County Gazette. "We needed one by the end of May. Everyday the situation becomes more and more dire."
Unless legislators unite to solve the budget impasse, the state's bleak outlook will worsen, he added.
"If we don’t get a budget by the beginning of July, I think you’re looking at a pretty serious credit downgrade for the state, some of the state agencies and universities," Batinick said. "It’s important that we come together to pass the budget.”
Rauner’s brief speech sought to encourage legislators to overcome partisanship and spur action on a balanced budget during a 10-day special session that starts today.
“Right now, our state is in real crisis, and the actions we take in the days ahead will determine how history remembers us,” Rauner said. “We can all do better. We must all do better for the citizens of Illinois.”
The governor called on Democrats and Republicans to support a proposed budget plan that strikes a workable balance, funding necessary services, setting a plan for reducing property taxes, cutting spending, limiting expenses, reducing the debt and setting term limits for elected officials.
The Republican plan would raise $5 billion in taxes to pay overdue bills and fund services, while imposing a hard spending cap of $36 billion. The plan also includes a four-year property tax freeze.
“If we can agree to pass it, this plan will send a message across our state and around the nation that we are serious about making Illinois a more attractive destination for investment, new businesses and new jobs,” he said. “Failure to act is not an option. Failure to act may cause permanent damage to our state that will take years to overcome.”
Batinick said he hopes lawmakers can get down to business and work together during the special session.
"So much of what we do down there seems to be theater," he said. "It seems that we often put the politics ahead of the policy and I’m hoping we spend the next ten days focused on the policy.”
John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, said in a statement that the compromise “is a mistake.”
“This compromise means your paycheck will get smaller, and the state will continue to spend far beyond its means,” he said. “That is not a compromise. That is a failure.”
He said Illinois must seek reforms as well, because a balanced budget alone won’t be enough..
“It’s time to stand up and demand loud and clear what we want: a budget that dramatically changes our state government, turns our whole state system upside down,” Tillman said. “We need a balanced budget without a tax hike that makes spending for the poor and disadvantaged … its No. 1 priority.”
Pressure is mounting with just 10 days before the next fiscal year starts on July 1. If the state doesn’t pass a budget by then, it could see its credit rating fall further and lose the Powerball and Mega Millions lottery games, according to reports.
It would be the third straight year without a full budget in place.