Illinois lawmakers head out for 2-week spring break without passing a budget

Illinois lawmakers head out for 2-week spring break without passing a budget

Though Illinois lawmakers leave without addressing the current fiscal impasse, it’s been 16 years since the General Assembly last balanced the budget.

Spring break has started for Springfield politicians. Members of the General Assembly adjourned April 11 to start their spring vacation, still without passing a balanced budget.

Springfield has failed on this front for years. Long before the current budget impasse, state lawmakers passed budget deficit after budget deficit, enabled by the governors who signed those budgets into law. According to the Illinois Constitution, the state is required to pass a balanced budget. But despite this constitutional obligation, the state has not passed a balanced budget in 16 years and has gotten around the constitutional requirement with accounting gimmicks and chronic borrowing.

Meanwhile, pay for social service providers is delayed while pay for politicians is fast-tracked.

This is by design. In 2014, House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton pushed a bill through the General Assembly guaranteeing lawmaker pay, even in the absence of a budget. Then-Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill, making sure that no matter what else happened with the budget, lawmakers would get paid. And while Illinois’ lawmakers are some of the highest paid in the nation and many enjoy cushy benefits, like the $10,000 stipend doled out to committee chairs, many service providers have had to close their doors.

But these same lawmakers have adjourned for two weeks instead of tackling Illinois’ legion of fiscal problems. Unfortunately, Springfield hasn’t been doing its job for 16 years, and as a result the state has a nearly $13 billion bill backlog and is paying more than $9 billion for interest on the state’s debt, crowding out funding for critical services. Lawmakers’ decision to stop working toward much needed reforms didn’t start this spring break, and that 16-year hiatus won’t end until they pass a balanced budget.

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No budget, no pay for Illinois lawmakers
Illinois politicians should not skip to the front of the line. No budget, no pay for lawmakers. Sign the petition to prioritize Illinoisans over lawmakers.
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