Letter: Speaker Must Pass a Budget That Balances Priorities and Revenues

The Speaker has spoken.

I am delighted to read in his letter to the editor on May 21 that Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan wants not only a budget for 2016, but also 2017. As the maestro of the legislature, he can make anything happen.  I am just afraid of what that budget will do. 

If any of the bills the Speaker has sponsored over the past 11 months are any indication, his budget will under estimate program costs and over estimate revenue.  In other words, the policies that have created a $7.5 billion backlog of state bills, $120 billion of unpaid pension obligations and the exodus of citizens, students, and jobs from our state will continue.

The Speaker attributed the success of passing six bipartisan budget proposals over the past year to the Governor abandoning his efforts to change the direction of our state.  As one who supported those six proposals I know they passed because they had a source of revenue to pay for them.  That is one of the reasons every other spending bill has lacked my support.  

Let me be clear, the battle in Springfield has not been over saving the middle class, supporting our students and institutions of higher education, or helping the most vulnerable in our society.  I join nearly every other legislator in wanting to do those things.  The battle is over the failure to balance spending with available revenue and setting the right priorities.  

As one who sits on 2 of the 5 House Appropriate Committees I want a budget that supports education, assists those in need, and creates a climate to grow the economy.  But again this year, the Speaker who controls the process has not allowed those committees to craft a desperately needed budget.  This week we will see the Speaker’s budget.  I want to support passing a balanced budget that meets the needs of our citizens and doesn’t overburden taxpayers.  

Robert Pritchard
State Representative—70th District