Illinois passes first budget in years, elicits reactions from around the state

Illinois Capitol

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois — Weeks of waiting for Illinois residents came to an end on Thursday afternoon when the Illinois House voted to override Governor Rauner’s budget vetoes.

When news broke of the first budget passed for the state in three years, lawmakers and several coalitions from all over the state were quick to share their reactions.

Governor Bruce Rauner:

“Today was another step in Illinois’ never-ending tragic trail of tax hikes. Speaker Madigan’s 32 percent permanent income tax increase will force another tax hike in the near future. His tax-and-spend plan is not balanced, does not cut enough spending or pay down enough debt, and does not help grow jobs or restore confidence in government. It proves how desperately we need real property tax relief and term limits. Now more than ever, the people of Illinois must fight for change that will help us create a brighter future.”

Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti:

Illinois Lt Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti photo from Bruce Rauner website

“Today, Speaker Madigan got his wish.  Springfield is back to business-as-usual: tax increases, unbalanced budgets, and phony reforms.  For two years, the majority party has held our state hostage in a budget crisis.  Why?  For a 32% permanent income tax increase they could have passed two years ago.  Businesses and families are fleeing our state.  The only way out of this financial crisis is to pass the real reforms and pro-growth policies our businesses and families so desperately need.”

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White:

“I applaud the bipartisan effort today by the Illinois General Assembly. My top priority remains providing the highest level of customer service to the people of Illinois in a fiscally responsible manner. With the implementation of a full budget, my office can do just that.”

Illinois State Senator Daniel Biss:

Photo from ilga.gov

“I’m glad that because rank and file legislators on both sides of the aisle followed their consciences instead of their leaders, we avoided the catastrophe of yet another year without a budget. Now it’s time to solve our long term problems. We need to build on this collaboration and come together to create real progress by making the rich pay their fair share to fund our schools, protect people’s health care, and get our economy moving.”

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs:

Photo from ilinoistreasurer.gov

“Today’s vote to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of the budget was the only option to restore vital funding to universities, social service agencies, and try to avoid another credit downgrade… This is not a time to rejoice. Today only brings us a bit of relief, but it is a step in the right direction to put Illinois back on track…Today, we must acknowledge that these were self-inflicted wounds and commit that we never again will put politics above people.”

State Rep. Mike Halpin:

Photo from halpinforillinois.com

“When the Legislature approved a bipartisan, balanced budget plan, I had hoped it would finally get Governor Rauner back to the negotiating table, so we could reach a compromise on elements of the deal I thought still needed work. While I saw the spending plan that cuts $3 billion in state bureaucracy as a good start, I couldn’t agree with the entire deal. Sadly, the governor wasn’t thinking about the well-being of the state, only about his own re-election campaign. His veto left me with the unfortunate choice of overriding his veto and supporting a deal I couldn’t entirely agree with, or follow the governor over the edge, dragging local families down with us.

As I considered the best path forward given the governor’s refusal to enact a budget, I studied the budget package carefully to make sure the final version expands tax credits for middle-class and struggling families so people in our communities get some relief, and my push to stop a retirement tax and a tax on groceries was successful. I’m going to keep fighting for property tax relief for homeowners in the Quad Cities.

I want to be very clear that this budget deal is not the deal I think we could have reached had the governor been willing to work in good faith. None of the Republicans or Democrats who supported this budget wanted higher taxes. Governor Rauner could have worked with us to go beyond the $3 billion in cuts we identified in our budget; together we could have finally made Chicago millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share, and closed the loopholes big corporations use to rig the system. But the governor wasn’t willing to make those tough choices, so I did.”

Congressman Bill Foster:

Photo from congress.gov

“Illinois has gone three years without a budget. I am grateful that more than a dozen Republicans in the General Assembly joined with Democrats to override Governor Rauner and produce a true compromise.

I am distressed, however, to see the Governor’s continued intransigence. Illinois has tremendous challenges that can only be met when we are all working together. I hope Governor Rauner puts aside his partisan agenda and works to undue the damage he’s done.”

Statement from Illinois Policy CEO John Tillman:

“Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s budget and nearly $5 billion tax hike continue the same policies that created the present crisis. The budget lacks any material reforms to the state’s out-of-control spending, which is the root cause of the long-simmering crisis. It has fake savings that will never materialize, while the tax hike will take $1,000 per year from the average Illinois household.

Over the last several days passions have run high as the people of Illinois rose up to make their voices heard. Millions engaged. These voices were so loud, and in such vigorous opposition to this tax hike that some lawmakers tried to shut those voices down.

That is an outrage to our democracy and our representative form of government. All voices must be heard, especially the voices of those who are angry and frustrated. They are the bellwether that can provide insight into the pain and helplessness our citizens feel when their voices are ignored.

Elements of Springfield’s elite were shocked and surprised by the reaction of Illinoisans fed up with years of misrule and self-dealing. In response, they have tried to portray a minuscule minority of these voices – an illegitimate fringe issuing threats and promising violence – as representatives of the whole. Let’s be clear what they seek to do: delegitimize and dismiss the valid disappointment of Illinoisans.

Those Illinoisans – the vast majority – are respectful, civil and fed up with elitists’ tax hikes, out-of-control spending and poor governance. They know that the legislators who passed this phony budget have achieved nothing, except to make the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Illinoisans more difficult, more expensive and more burdensome.

The truth is that the people of Illinois now understand as never before that Madigan and his political allies care more about the prerogatives of the Illinois political class than they do about the well-being of average families in Illinois. The people now understand that this is no longer a Republican problem or a Democratic problem. This is a problem of the people trying to regain control of a government that not only ignores their voices, but also desires to shut those voices down.”

Statement from the “They Deserve More” coalition, agencies representing people with disabilities:

“We congratulate our state leaders for coming through with a budget for the state, and appreciate that additional support addressing the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities has been included in this important legislation. We understand that reaching this compromise required many difficult decisions, and we are encouraged that this budget starts to address critical priorities.

Individuals with disabilities rely heavily on the personal and professional help provided by their caregivers. It has been nearly a decade since these direct support professionals (DSPs) have had an increase in their average starting wages. This lack of funding has led to devastating outcomes for those who rely on direct support staff for daily care and support; community homes have closed, hundreds of caregiver positions have gone unfilled, and nearly 20,000 children and adults with disabilities have languished on a state waiting list for services.

This state budget provides an important first step in the right direction – a 75-cent per hour raise which will help us get over the $10 mark with average starting wages for DSPs. But it is only a first step. As we move forward, we hope that state leaders will make good on their intention to make the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities a priority. That includes ensuring that we address the ongoing workforce crisis facing DSP’s by funding a living and competitive wage of $15.00 per hour.

Our state leaders’ sustained commitment to this critical issue is essential to ensure that future budgets help us get closer to a living wage, and ensure the best possible care is provided for those citizens who need the most support.”

Statement from Illinois Home Care for Seniors coalition:

“The administration of Bruce Rauner made dismantling the vastly successful Community Care Program (CCP) for seniors a top priority of the budget talks. Thankfully, negotiators stood firm and held the line against the $120 million cut to care that put 36,000 seniors at risk of forced institutionalization. The compromise, creating a task force to review care of seniors ineligible for Medicaid funds, creates a new opportunity to iterate just how CCP saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and allows Illinoisans in their golden years to stay in their homes and community with dignity, instead of costlier nursing homes where, research shows, the outcomes are bleaker.

Still, the seniors of Illinois have much to be concerned about and need to ask hard questions of their governor. Will he abandon his plan to replace CCP with rationing senior care via a patchwork, unproven program using rideshare programs, cleaning services and food coupons? Does he believe that seniors cycling in and out of poverty should be denied care from the outset?”