The Illinois Constitution, adopted in 1970, states in Article VIII, Section II, Subsection A that, "Proposed expenditures shall not exceed funds estimated to be available for the fiscal year as shown in the budget."
Subsection B adds, "The General Assembly by law shall make appropriations for all expenditures of public funds by the State. Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year."
Combined those two sentences make up the bulk of the balanced budget provision in our states constitution and the actions taken Thursday by the Illinois House are in direct violation of those provisions.
On Thursday members of the Illinois House voted on 77 different appropriation bills to cobble together a budget for the next fiscal year that is nearly $3 billion over projected revenue estimates.
State Representative and GOP nominee for Congress in Illinois' 11th district Darlene Senger wrote the following Friday at Illinois Review about the unconstitutional overspending by Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and his super-majority of Democrats.
Earlier this spring, Republicans and Democrats agreed to a revenue estimate of $34.5 Billion, representing the amount of money the bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) projects the State to bring in during Fiscal Year 2015, which begins July 1. This number includes letting the temporary income tax increase expire on schedule at the end of this year.
The dozens of spending bills the majority party approved Thursday amounts to at least $37.3 Billion in total spending - a staggering $2.8 Billion MORE than the number we agreed to in March. By voting on all this extra spending but NOT voting on what the revenue will be to pay for it, Democrats are virtually guaranteeing that the "temporary" income tax increase will be made permanent.
As every Illinois resident should be well aware of an income tax increase passed by Gov. Pat Quinn and Speaker Madigan in January of 2011 is set to expire at the end of this year. Currently Illinois taxes income at 5 percent should the tax increase sunset to would go to 3.75 percent. It was the promise of Democrats back in 2011 that should the states multi-billion dollar backlog of unpaid bills not be paid off with the increased revenue from the "temporary" tax increase then the tax increase would end.
Gov. Quinn and Speaker Madigan have been working overtime to find some way of either maintaining the tax increase, saying it is for education, or replacing it with a constitutional amendment changing Illinois' flat income tax into a Marxist progressive income tax.
The combination of the clock running out and their not being enough votes in their caucus Quinn and Madigan lost out on their chance to change Illinois from a flat to progressive income tax this year, other new tax increase attempt including Madigan's millionaire's tax also have failed so far this year in Springfield.
That is leaving Quinn and Madigan with only maintaining the "temporary" tax increase as the means to fund their fiscally irresponsible spending habits.
Illinois' spring legislative session still has several days left to it and it is entirely possible that the House, along with the Democrat super-majority in the Senate could add even more spending to the next fiscal year "budget" that could see the state unconstitutionally spending more than $4 billion than projected revenues.
The constitutionality of this reckless spending was brought up Thursday by Democrat Jack Franks, as reported by Scott Reeder, in an exchange with fellow Democrat Brandon Phelps.
“I think it’s illegal,” he said. “It’s required that we have a balanced budget. That means that the revenues have to match the expenditures. It’s my understanding that the budget is going to be $4 billion more than the anticipated revenue, so I don’t see how constitutionally we can even entertain that.”
But state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, disagreed with this legal assessment.
“I don’t think it’s unconstitutional at all,” he said. “You have to remember that this is just one step in the process. We still don’t know what the Senate is going to approve. It’s still got a ways to go. The important thing is that we don’t make cuts to programs and to the people of my district.”
For years fiscal responsibility has been a foreign concept to Democrat lawmakers in Springfield who have ignored things like Illinois' balanced budget provision en route to an unfunded pension liability of $100 billion, at least $5 billion in unpaid bills(that are way past over due), and now what appears to be $3-4 billion in deficit spending.
So I have to ask does Illinois' constitutional budgeting restraints matter anymore?