How are things in Springfield, Jim? Are we moving in the right direction? If I had a quarter for each time I’ve been asked those questions. I’d have enough money to take Jenny out for a nice dinner. The answers are – good and absolutely. More than any time in my ten years in this office, I see such positive efforts to fix a very difficult situation.
Last week I attempted to simplify the complexity of our $58 billion budget and the income we anticipate from you. The most important aspect of that column, it was not “pie in the sky”. Both the House of Representatives and our State Senate have agreed that the “line in the sand” is that all the available money coming into our state coffers from you the taxpayers is $33,719,000,000. This is Amendment 2 to House Resolution 706, and it is identical to House Joint Resolution (HJR) 69 which is concurred to by the Senate.
Once again this year, and not surprising, the Governor’s Office is in opposition as they believe that more money will become available. The resolutions are also opposed by the Illinois Policy Institute (which surprises me), the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, Planned Parenthood and SEIU (Service Employees International Union) (which doesn’t surprise me).
Many organizations expect to be fully funded no matter how much money is available. Many of you would like to obtain things, but if no money is available, you know you’ll have to tighten your belt for at least another year.
I’ve arrived at the point I want to make –the house and senate will allocate no more money than $33,719,000,000. If more money comes in we can pay down past due bills (now approximately $8 billion). The real good news is for the first time in many years (at least ten), we stand to spend less than our income.
Recently, walking into the Freeport Farm and Fleet, a gentleman I know well said to me, “Jim, you’ve got to quit writing nice things about Chicago Democrats, I’m starting to think you are going over to the other side”.
I’m just very proud of how so many of us are coming, perhaps begrudgingly, to consensus.
As the old saying goes, “it’s not over until the fat lady sings” on May 31st. It will be a tough two months but it must happen.