State Budget Update

It’s been a hectic few days as far as the state budget goes, so I wanted to bring you up to speed on the latest from Springfield.

The budget we create every year is in the form of multiple bills. One, for instance, deals with human services; one funds higher education; one funds public safety; etc.

This year, the Democrats in the legislature passed a series of budget bills that made some small cuts but essentially held spending level on vital services, and increased funding for K-12 education. That budget spent about $4 billion more than projected revenues, a gap that in my view must be closed by progressive taxes on the very wealthy and an end to corporate loopholes and giveaways.

A few days ago, Gov. Rauner signed our K-12 funding plan. On Thursday, he vetoed the remainder of the budget bills.

This is nothing less than DC-style partisan gamesmanship, playing chicken with the Legislature as we careen toward June 30, the end of the fiscal year. Beyond that date, if there’s no budget passed, the government will not be able to function.

Gov. Rauner is hoping that we’ll flinch first, that we’ll give in to his demands of busting unions, lowering wages, and keeping injured workers from receiving fair compensation. He refuses to talk about new revenues to fix the budget deficit until we give in on these issues. But we are unwilling to kowtow to his demands and eviscerate the middle class for the benefit of the very wealthy.

Because of that, it is very likely that we will see a government shutdown starting in July. Poor families, people with disabilities, seniors, and children will lose services they depend on thanks to the Governor’s intransigence.

If you rely on state services — like LIHEAP, child care, home health care, etc. — please contact our office at 773-227-9720. We will talk you through what to expect in the coming weeks and how best to try to secure the services you need if and when the Rauner shutdown occurs.

Otherwise, please consider doing something extra this summer to take care of your neighbors in need. Sadly, the Governor is making sure that our state won’t be able to.