Illinois Opportunity Project Budget Vote Statement
‘Go-Along-To-Get-Along’ Makes a Springfield Comeback

After a very quiet closed-door negotiation process, Illinois’ FY2019 Budget (HB 109) flew through the State House and Senate. The media and political class is praising this tidy, bi-partisan deal-making.

You should not.

Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation, the worst pension crisis of any state, the highest property taxes in the country, and a crumbling tax base.

This is not the time to celebrate the passing of another unbalanced budget with no cuts and no reforms. This is the time to fight for the fiscally conservative reforms middle-income families need and Republicans promise year after year.

The budget appropriates $38.5 billion – an amount that uses every bit of last year’s 32% income tax hike.

Additionally, the budget relies on another $600 million in fund sweeps, $400 million in pension savings that may never materialize, and (for the third consecutive year), another $300 million in revenues from the yet to be sold Thompson Center.

These are the same old gimmicks that Illinois Democrats have always used – only this year, Republicans are going along with them.

Furthermore, despite all the self-congratulatory back-patting in the state legislature, this budget will not make life better for Illinoisans.

That is because the Republican leadership has not pushed for conservative reforms. Nor have they supported members who seek conservative reform.

For all the political hand-wringing over Illinois’ unfair property tax burden, the legislature has yet to enact real property tax relief.

The legislature has not consolidated school districts to help reduce Illinoisans ever-rising property tax bills.

The legislature has not taken up real workers compensation reform to make the state more attractive to job creators.

The legislature has done nothing to reform state worker salaries and benefits.

The legislature did not enact a local government bankruptcy plan, even as fiscal pressures from pension funds have begun to crush municipalities.

The legislature has made no collective bargaining reforms to bring state expenses in line with neighboring states.

We thank the reform-minded legislators who opposed this budget in the House and Senate, such as State Representatives John Cabello, Brad Halbrook, Jeanne Ives, Margo McDermed, David McSweeney, Tom Morrison, Lindsay Parkhurst, and Allen Skillicorn, and Senators Kyle McCarter and Tim Bivins.

Republican leaders (who claim they “want to win elections”) did not fight for the reforms you desperately need. They have further aligned themselves with Illinois Democrats. In addition to today’s vote, this past year was marked by Republican capitulation: a third of the caucus voted for the largest tax hike in state history, 18 Republican members joined Democrats to pass the pro-abortion ERA bill, and 7 House Republicans, led by Jim Durkin, voted for Senator Don Harmon’s gun control bill.

As a party, Illinois Republicans now head into the 2018 general election with very little to distinguish them from the state’s “tax-and-spend and borrow-and-spend and spend-and-spend-and-spend” Democrats.

At the Illinois Opportunity Project, we hold the line. We are more committed than ever to promoting the principles of fiscal conservatism. We support those who, like Ives, Skillicorn, and McCarter, have the insight and political will to fight the “go-along-to-get-along” culture that has led Illinois into the largest fiscal and moral crisis in the nation. We invite you to join us.

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