GOP legislative leaders want a budget revenue estimate introduced and certified by the Democrats now.
“I have sent Speaker (Mike) Madigan (D-Chicago) two letters in the last two months asking that we work on a revenue estimate,” Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said at an impromptu press conference with Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) on April 26.
“I don’t need to go on bended knee over to the speaker’s office, he knows exactly what my request and my caucus’ request is,” Durkin said.
The lack of Democrat compliance is illegal and even suspect. “This is not some idea that might be helpful in the budget process or a public relations ploy to cause a stir to get people riled up over nothing, it is our legal and constitutional duty,” Durkin said.
Brady used the past to foretell the future.
“We have learned the failings of a court ordered spending plan that was dealt to us by an impasse,” Brady said.
It is a simple concept – revenues cannot exceed spending, according to the GOP leaders, who said the state budget is no different than balancing a check book; it is irresponsible and reckless not to treat it that way.
“We are taught we should not be spending money that we don’t have,” Durkin said.
Durkin asked why lawmakers are even having appropriation committee meetings if they don’t know how much they have to spend in each department.
Joined by Reps. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), Tim Butler (R-Springfield), Lyndsay Parkhurst (R-Kankakee) and Jerry Long (R-Streator), the GOP leaders said they cannot wait any longer since the day of fiscal reckoning is here.
“We must certify a revenue estimate as soon as possible and work in good faith towards passing a balanced budget for the people of Illinois,” Durkin said.
In office for four years without once certifying a revenue estimate is alien to Wheeler, who said he is stunned by the lack of compliance.
“How do we know if we just piecemeal all these bills together if we are going to go past what our expected revenues would be if we haven’t determined what those revenues are?” Wheeler asked.
Like the House and Senate leaders, Wheeler said a baseline budgeting process is not a may it is a shall. Serving on the General Revenue Services Committee, Wheeler said he has been presented with a plethora of packets filled with figures seemingly for no reason at all.
“But we have never used any of them because we won’t follow the process and start the first step, first,” Wheeler said.
Brady said he and Durkin were clear at the recent meeting of the four legislative leaders that they wanted a revenue estimate number as soon as possible, but the Democrats have still failed to produce one.
Durkin, asked by a reporter if lawmakers must spend the almost $38 billion revenue estimate, said no, adiding that by statute they only have to adopt or modify the approximation.
“I would love to be able to pass a budget that is less than what we estimate,” Durkin said.
The GOP leaders said if the Democrats do not meet them half way in meeting the statutory requirement, there will be consequences.
“We can slow down things in the House of Representatives,” Durkin said. “We have shown in the last two weeks that when the Democrats are not going to be fair with us, we can make the process not so easy.”