By State Rep. Bob Pritchard -
As I drove home from Springfield Friday I couldn't help but ponder the two rejected budgets, the cancellation of two session days and only six remaining days to this legislative session. For some reason the childhood nursery rhyme about the three bears came to mind: baby bear found "one was too large, one was too small and finally one was just right." Perhaps this applies to the budget.
Could Speaker Madigan-the master strategist-- have planned this budget show-down from the beginning? Why, if he needed bipartisan support to pass a budget, did he not seek it when he met with Republican leader Durkin last week? Why did he cancel session days if there was no "Plan C" budget?
The value of bipartisan input on the budget was emphasized in debate this past week. When the speaker introduced the anticipated revenue and mandated expenditures for FY2015 in March, it was Republicans who pointed out the many spending lines that were too high and thus left too little for important services of the state like education, care of older Americans and the disabled.
The Speaker knew the accuracy of our argument and the budget that was presented last week reflected a paring down of mandated expenses and therefore another $893 million was available for essential programs. There is much more that can be trimmed from this budget without affecting vital services and our most vulnerable citizens but the Governor nor Speaker Madigan have wanted to entertain a debate. There is legislation that is held in committee that would help grow our economy and put people to work without taxing more of each dollar earned. Let's debate these ideas.
So when you hear that Republicans have no ideas and just want to say "no"--like was said in the House debate many times recently-- remember the facts. Remember that bipartisan discussions do improve legislation.
I hope Speaker Madigan will draw from these ideas in his next budget bill so that it will be "just right" for the State of Illinois.