Western Courier

The politics of no compromise

The+16-week+Illinois+budget+stalemate++is+a+result+of+disagreements+between+Speaker+Mike+Madigan+%28pictured%0Aabove%29+and+Gov.+Bruce+Rauner
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The politics of no compromise

The 16-week Illinois budget stalemate  is a result of disagreements between Speaker Mike Madigan (pictured
above) and Gov. Bruce Rauner

The 16-week Illinois budget stalemate is a result of disagreements between Speaker Mike Madigan (pictured above) and Gov. Bruce Rauner

The 16-week Illinois budget stalemate is a result of disagreements between Speaker Mike Madigan (pictured above) and Gov. Bruce Rauner

The 16-week Illinois budget stalemate is a result of disagreements between Speaker Mike Madigan (pictured above) and Gov. Bruce Rauner

Jacob Tomlinson

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This week Illinois will enter into its 16th week without a budget and, therefore, without any authority to spend money. The pure fiscal irresponsibility is bloodcurdling.

 Last week, Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger held a press conference in which she explained the severity of the budget impasse and its effects on the state. As of right now, 90 percent of the states’ bills are being paid because of either court order or consent decree.

 At first glance, you would think it is a good thing that 90 percent of Illinois’ bills are being paid. However, it is exactly the opposite and here is why: All of the bills that Illinois is paying are being paid out at last years’ level, which means that the bills are being paid at a level when the state was taking in more revenue.

 And, because we do not have the money to actually wpay the bills — because a budget has not been passed — the state is disbursing money that it does not have. When Illinois makes payments to 90 percent of these bills, the deficit continues to grow and assault Illinois’ economy.

 To be more specific, because Illinois does not have a budget, the bill backlog grows at a disastrous rate. As of now, the bill backlog is at about $6.9 billion. By the end of the calendar year, if we do not have a budget, it will grow to approximately $8.5 billion.

 Lastly, to explain the severity of Illinois fiscal problems, I’ll provide you with two frightening numbers: Illinois is taking in about $142 million in revenue and Illinois is paying out about $7 billion in obligations. Simple math will tell you that the state cannot go on like this and remain sustainable.

 So, why is Illinois going on like this? Why, if Illinois legislators understand the harshness of the problem that Illinois faces, has a budget not been passed?

 The main reason why Illinois has not seen a budget comes down to political games. Longstanding Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and freshman Gov. Bruce Rauner have been in a political standoff on just about every issue — but especially the budget.

 It is evident that a tax increase, as well as budget cuts, will be necessary in order to balance the budget. The problem is compromise. Rauner has said time and time again at press conferences that he is willing to sign onto a balanced budget with a tax increase, if Madigan and legislative Democrats are willing to pass a law to weaken collective bargaining for public sector unions.

 However, Madigan is neither coming to the compromising table, nor is he passing a balanced budget and is overriding Rauner’s veto with the help of the majority of Democrats in the House chamber. Why? Because he feels that both are political suicide.

 On the one hand, Madigan is used to getting his way, especially after holding a majority for the last 12 years. On the other hand, Madigan has been friendly to unions and to weaken their collective bargaining rights would mean to weaken his chance of reelection.

 As for Rauner, why doesn’t he just give in and pass a balanced budget with a tax increase to help out the state? If Rauner were to give in, he then looks weak and Madigan wins. Then, Madigan will feel like he has control over the governor.

 So, rather than sitting down and coming to a compromise on a budget, both sides will continue to wait it out, sending the deficit and the 10 percent of bills not covered by the court orders or consent decrees into a free fall.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
The politics of no compromise