Why Rauner should veto all of Madigan’s budget

Why Rauner should veto all of Madigan’s budget

Senate Bill 2048 isn’t a serious blueprint for the future of Illinois.

House Speaker Mike Madigan on May 25 pushed a budget plan through the chamber he controls. The problem is, it’s $7 billion out of balance.

The House of Representatives voted 60-53 in favor of Madigan’s spending plan, Senate Bill 2048, which included no mention of how that $7 billion shortfall would be financed.

With the state expected to raise just $32.6 billion in revenues in 2017, the reported deficit means Madigan’s spending plan would total $40 billion, a record spending amount for Illinois.

According to reports, Rauner has said he will veto the entire bill.

Some, however, have asked why the governor doesn’t just use line item vetoes to get the budget is in balance. Unfortunately, the answer is simple: The way the budget has been presented, there’s not much Rauner can veto.

A massive deficit

For starters, the budget bill is not a serious proposal.

Madigan’s latest maneuver is just the continuation of the last 15 years of his leadership. Illinois hasn’t had a balanced budget since 2001. And like those budgets, this one contains no financial reforms and no changes in spending priorities – just another deficit.

In fact, this deficit is so large that it will more than double the state’s pile of unpaid bills to more than $15 billion.

Madigan’s proposal is simply unworkable.

Much of Madigan’s budget is untouchable

Not only does the bill present Rauner with a record deficit, Madigan’s budget only appropriates – or directly allocates – $14 billion of the total $40 billion it’s estimated to spend.

The remaining $26 billion, which includes items such as pension payments and debt service, will instead be on autopilot, determined by court orders, consent decrees and continuing appropriations. That’s how Illinois was able to function in fiscal year 2016 without a budget.

Rauner is unable to veto a large majority of that spending. In other words, much of the budget is untouchable.

Any serious proposal necessary to end Illinois’ budget crisis should include all spending.

And if Madigan wants to spend $7 billion more than is available in the state coffers, then he should propose a tax hike get rid of the deficit. To cover that deficit through income taxes would mean a 50 percent increase in the personal income tax, to 5.5 percent from 3.75 percent, and an increase in the corporate income tax to 7.75 percent from 5.25 percent.

Madigan’s spending plan isn’t a serious blueprint for the future of Illinois. Rauner should veto the entire Madigan “budget” so lawmakers can get back to producing a real budget for Illinois.

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