House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) held a press conference recently to push for negotiations toward a balanced budget for Illinois next year.
"Through a bipartisan effort, we were able to craft a balanced budget with no new taxes for 2020," Durkin said at the press conference. "That was a great example of give and take negotiations and resulted in a positive outlook for Illinois."
Durkin said now there is a growing surplus.
"When we work together and respect each other's priorities, we can accomplish great things for our state," Durkin said. "Right now, that means no new taxes and no tax increases. It does not involve hypothetical revenues."
Durkin said if lawmakers start working together immediately, those efforts can work for Illinoisans right away.
House Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) said Republicans are ready to work together with Democrats.
"We're very active in pushing the concept that through bipartisan work," Demmer said. "Our appropriations committees could do the hard work it takes to produce a successful budget."
Demmer said in projected revenues for next year, personal corporate and sales taxes have a projected growth of $1 billion in revenue.
State Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) said revenues are much stronger now.
"We worked for a balanced budget and with no new taxes," Brady said. "I'm interested in seeing the 5 percent put in involving higher education to see how that will do this time around."
Brady said the budget needs to have good, solid fiscal restraint.
"I look forward and extend our hand to work with the other side of the aisle to work on the budget," Brady said.
Durkin said he'd consider funding going toward the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) an investment.
"It’s more than just money," Durkin said. "It's people in the agency and that’s how we begin to restore confidence. We need to restore confidence in DCFS."
Durkin said outcomes that have occurred in recent years need to be avoided in the future.
Demmer said he wanted to echo the fact that Republicans stand open to working with Democrats on funding for DCFS.
"This is not an effort that just money will solve," Demmer said. "It's an ongoing effort with the DCFS workgroup. We need strong leadership and policy changes."
Durkin said fiscal stability is a fleeting issue with Democrats.
"We need a clear understanding of what we need and to not go above that," Durkin said. "We should discuss real money—not hypothetical or possible money down the road. We should plan as if there is no change and work with what we have at the moment."