Bellock: 'We Must Move Forward With a Bipartisan Solution to This Budget Impasse'

Letter to the Editor published in Elmhurst Patch:

Patricia R. “Patti” Bellock
Deputy Minority Leader
State Representative, 47th District

The State of Illinois budget impasse is hurting the most vulnerable families in our community while undermining the state’s ability to grow the economy and create good-paying new jobs.
Governor Rauner delivered his Budget Address on February 17.  In his speech, the Governor outlined two alternate paths to resolve the impasse. The first, preferred option is for Democrats and Republicans in the State House and Senate to come together and compromise on a budget solution that includes some of the Governor’s proposed reforms “to lower the cost of government, while generating economic growth.”  These include workers’ compensation reform, lawsuit reform, local government consolidation, and reform to the processes by which the State negotiates contracts with the state employees’ union.

The alternative option is for the General Assembly to grant the Governor CEO-like powers to control government spending.  Powers requested by the Governor include the creation of spending reserves, reductions in certain provider rates and modifications to continuing appropriations. Under this scenario, the Governor would have the ability to manage state government spending in the absence of a budget.
As one observer put it, the choices facing the majority party in Springfield are to “lead, follow, or get out of the way”. We must move forward with a bipartisan solution to this budget impasse.  
The situation has become so dire that Catholic Charities, Illinois’ largest provider of social services, recently announced a massive reduction in services and a new round of layoffs unless the budget impasse is resolved. Earlier this month, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois announced it would cut 750 jobs and close 30 of its 190 programs for veterans and substance abuse clients. According to the United Way of Illinois, 83 percent of the state's social service agencies have cut programs since the budget deadlock began in July 2015.
We owe it to every Illinois family and taxpayer to come together and agree on a budget that maintains a vital safety net for the most vulnerable children and families in our community while reforming state government to allow for greater economic growth and opportunity. As the budget negotiator for my caucus and an advocate for human services, I remain committed to doing my part to forge compromise.