CHICAGO With no end to a budget stalemate in sight, Illinois House Democrats pushed through a $2.3 billion one-month spending plan Thursday after adding a provision that would allow the state to meet its payroll for the next 30 days.
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration slammed the legislation as unconstitutional and he saidWednesday he wouldn’t sign an emergency spending plan. He could still use his amendatory veto powers to allow state workers to be paid.
After the House failed last week to pass the one-month plan, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, rounded up additional caucus votes, allowing the plan to squeak by with just the needed 71 votes. The vote followed several hours of debate in which Democrats and Republicans attacked each other over the budget impasse.
The measure now returns to the Senate which is in session next week. A new vote is needed due to the payroll amendment. The state can’t pay fiscal 2016 bills without an appropriation, although some expenses including debt service continue to be made under a continuing appropriation.
“Voting to spend money the state doesn’t have is the cause of Illinois’ financial crisis,” Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said in a statement. “Today, Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls irresponsibly voted for yet another unbalanced budget plan. We saw today that Speaker Madigan can force 70 legislators to join him in voting for an unconstitutional budget.”
Rauner told Madigan Wednesday to either get behind his reintroduced policy and governance reforms or to push through his own tax hike.
Rauner’s suggestion came as he re-introduced bills tied to his so-called turnaround agenda and announced new details of a “comprehensive” pension reform plan that would affect Chicago, Cook County, downstate police and fire, and state pension funds. The bill includes a provision to allow local government to pursue a Chapter 9 restructuring after an independent evaluation is conducted and decision is made that a fiscal emergency exists.
"We are calling on Speaker Madigan to take up these bills, the specific bills," the freshman GOP governor said at a news conference, where he renewed his push for various reform measures considered too pro-business and anti-union to win Democratic support.
Otherwise, he urged Madigan, the Chicago Democrat who has been the focus of his ire, to use the Democrats' three-fifths majority to pass a tax hike.
Democrats and Republicans have sought to cast the blame on each other for the gridlock that stalled passage of a balanced budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Rauner proposed a $32 billion plan with deep cuts. Democrats pushed through a $36.3 billion plan that was as much as $4 billion short of needed revenue.
The governor vetoed all of it except for the education component. He wants Democrats to pass worker's compensation and tort reforms, a temporary local government property tax freeze, and ballot measures on term limits and redistricting changes in exchange for tax hikes.
Democrats have countered that Rauner's own budget proposal was at least $2 billion out of whack because it relied on savings from pension reforms that even Rauner admits might not hold up to a legal challenge. House and Senate leaders argue that they've attempt to pass his agenda proposals and they've failed.