Letter to the Editor: State Continues Overspending Bill Trend

To the Editor,

Without a state budget, the General Assembly continued to vote on spending bills last week just as it has done since last May.  The bills, drafted by the majority party with no input from the minority, seemed to fund important programs including higher education, grants for students and human services.  One thing is always missing in these bills, however--an adequate source of funding. 

On the day before adjourning for a month, the House was asked to vote on a surprise spending bill that included nearly $3.7 billion for all manner of programs and services that had yet to be funded.  This bill was introduced after most members had gone home for the evening and thus avoided any public comment.  Despite being presented as a “compromise effort,” no members of the minority party were at the negotiating table. 
The Governor’s Budget Director reports spending authority has been given that exceeds anticipated revenue this year.  The Comptroller’s office currently reports a backlog of bills waiting to be paid that totals $7.2 billion and growing with almost 50,000 unpaid vouchers on hand and vendors waiting over a year in many cases to get paid.  Allocating money without identifying revenue sources gives false hope to providers and their clients expecting money but instead receiving an IOU.  These accounting games must stop.

It’s no coincidence that Speaker Madigan has been blocking discussions of budget cuts, new revenue and operating reforms as well as scheduling a four week recess in the legislative calendar to get legislators out of the capitol.  There is a primary election on March 15th to win.  While the political games continue and another bill with overspending did pass, House members have shamefully left our constituents out to dry for another month.

I have joined in proposing appropriation bills with a funding source, made overtures of compromise and tried to negotiate a solution month after month.  Again on Thursday I offered to help find funding and supported a motion to continue session during March to find resolution for a complete state budget.  It’s well past time; people and organizations are hurting.  Urge the Speaker and Governor to allow the legislature to work.

Bob Pritchard

State Representative, 70th District