SPRINGFIELD, IL – After nearly 18 months without a full budget, a broad-ranging bipartisan package of reforms, spending, and revenue was unveiled in the Senate, according to State Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo).
Legislators from both sides of the aisle hailed the legislation as the first step toward ending the state’s historic budget impasse.
Budget compromise unveiled in Senate
If the state’s historic budget impasse is to end any time soon, it could largely be due to a package of legislation unveiled in the Senate for the first time on January 9th. In addition to providing a full year budget with matching revenue, the measures tackle a broad range of issues, including term limits for legislative leaders, a statewide two-year property tax freeze, workers compensation reform, pension reform, and reforms to trim the cost of government.
The legislation was largely the result of meetings between Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago). The negotiations were based on the framework developed by bipartisan, bicameral working groups throughout the year.
The package of bills marks the first time any of the recent bipartisan agreements have linked reforms, a budget, and revenue together. The legislation also features language linking the entire package together, so that all of them must be passed into law for any of them to take effect.
Many lawmakers and good-government organizations had previously criticized the General Assembly for taking up controversial and major legislation during the lame-duck session. In light of that, in addition to time constraints due to the ending of the 99th General Assembly, the two legislative leaders agreed to wait until the 100th General Assembly was sworn in on Wednesday to re-file the legislation. The delay will allow lawmakers, reporters, and residents to see the bills before they are voted on.
Leader Radogno stated that while there is no firm timeline to pass the full slate of bills, she hoped action would take place on or before February 1st.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has been briefed on the legislation, and he offered support for the efforts of the Senate leaders to continue negotiating to find common ground.
Madigan pushes stop-gap budget
Despite the show of bipartisan cooperation in the Illinois Senate, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) used the lame-duck session to instead push through another stop-gap budget proposal.
The House legislation, sponsored by Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago), would provide $258 million to human service programs and another $400 million to higher education. The package would not, however, provide any new revenue streams or offer a full balanced budget, nor any reforms to shore up the state’s long-term financial instability. The Senate did not take action on the House legislation.
Senate institutes term limit rule for leaders
After the swearing in of new members, the Senate adopted its new rules, including for the first time -- term limits for legislative leaders. The new rule limits both the Senate President and Minority Leader to a maximum of five terms.
Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 2, which would permanently create leadership term limits via constitutional amendment, is part of the larger budget/reform package unveiled earlier in the week. Senator Schimpf is a cosponsor of that legislation and said that he hopes it will be voted on soon.