Here’s hoping that those state budget officials and other government geeks who went out and got hammered Saturday night to celebrate the “approval” of a budget for Illinois government’s upcoming fiscal year are over their hangovers by now.
They need to get back to work.
GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH made it official on Monday – he’s not accepting their budget plan, which really was just a matter of the General Assembly slopping something together so they could try to shift blame from themselves for the lack of a balanced budget.
Let’s be honest. The Legislature lied to us when its members said they had approved something by their May 31 deadline. They approved a budget knowing it did not provide enough revenue to cover all their expenses.
They just wanted to get out of Springfield so they could begin the process of getting themselves re-elected (and in the case of Democrats, to bask in the glow of campaigning with likely Democratic presidential nominee – and former legislative colleague – Barack Obama).
Depending on who one wants to believe, the nearly $60 billion budget has a hole between $2-2.5 billion (Blagojevich on Monday said $2.1 billion).
IT WOULD BE reckless for Blagojevich to sign this document into law. That was what motivated the governor on Monday to say he will meet with the Legislature’s four leaders some time this week in hopes they can reach some sort of agreement on a legitimate budget plan.
Once the four leaders and the governor reach some sort of agreement, the General Assembly likely would have to return to the Statehouse for a day or two to give formal approval to a budget plan.
Nothing has yet been scheduled, and there’s always the possibility that next week’s meeting between the governor and the leaders will end up with no budget agreement and all five parties taking verbal cheap shots at each other.
So at this point, who knows how long it will take for them to get their act together and do “the people’s business” for real. It’s going to be an ugly summer.
WHAT MAKES IT uglier (at least from the perspective of Chicago people who rely on the Democratic Party’s legislators to keep those rural GOP types from interfering) is that now the Republican Party’s lawmakers are a factor.
A whole group of people who would love to see partisan politics whack away at the reputations of people tied to the Democratic Party in Illinois now have to be listened to. They’re not going to be in any hurry to get serious and work with their Democratic colleagues.
But that ultimately is what must happen. Legislators are going to have to get serious about putting together a responsible spending plan for state government, instead of trying to pass a budget designed solely for political retribution.
No more slopping some junk together in hopes that Blagojevich won’t actually read it first (he probably didn’t, but his advisors sure did) before signing it.
THE REAL DEADLINE now is June 30. That’s the end of the current fiscal year. For Illinois government, 2009 begins on July 1. If there’s no budget approved by then, the risk exists of agencies being unable to pay their bills (and meet their employee payrolls).
That ultimately means the Illinois taxpayer would be penalized just because the Democratic leadership of Illinois government apparently were never taught by their mothers to “play nice.”
EDITOR’S NOTES: Back on Memorial Day (actually, much earlier), it was obvious that the General Assembly (http://chicagoargus.blogspot.com/2008/05/budget-battle-tangles-ill-legislature.html) would not really meet its deadline for summer adjournment.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich used this statement (http://blogs.e-rockford.com/inchambers/) to blast the Legislature’s budget proposal as “unconstitutional” because it is not balanced.
Leave it to business groups to suggest that the way to balance a state budget is to take it out (http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/982422,CST-NWS-state02.article) of the employee salaries. I guess government would be extremely profitable if your workforce were to give their labor for free.
Rural Republicans are now relevant in the legislative process of developing a budget for Illinois (http://www.sj-r.com/news/x396299393/Bomke-Brauer-Poe-rip-budget) government. I wonder how many are insulted by the fact that Blagojevich made his Monday statement from his office at the Thompson Center, rather than from anyplace affiliated with the capital city?