Daily Egyptian

Editorial: Budget impasse may last for months

The latest budget scenario kicking around Springfield is that it’s possible a budget agreement won’t be reached until almost a year from now.

It’s all because of the election calendar. There is a primary election in March and a general election in November.

The scenario that’s being painted is legislators don’t want to make decisions that might anger voters so close to the election. That means many legislators will be reluctant to vote for either higher taxes or fees, or cuts in spending. More specifically, House Speaker Michael Madigan and the Democrats don’t want to take votes on workmen’s compensation, prevailing wage or pension issues that might place organized labor support in jeopardy.

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At the same time, Republican legislators may be reluctant to raise taxes and fees, after years of opposing such measures. There is precedent. The General Assembly delayed dealing with pension reform for years, primarily because there was always an election in the offing.

Gambling that the General Assembly will do nothing is usually the safest bet. The first days of the new year haven’t been encouraging.

Gov. Bruce Rauner detailed in a series of interviews focused on his first year in office how Madigan was at fault for the budget impasse. The Illinois House cancelled two session days last week because Madigan said there wasn’t sufficient work to merit a gathering.

These two men have yet to form any sort of working relationship.

Rauner insists that any budget deal also include consideration of his Turnaround Agenda. That agenda includes several provisions that are viewed as anti-union by Madigan.

Madigan has insisted that Rauner’s ideas are “extreme” and do not pertain to the central issue of a budget. The disagreement is like a bad sitcom rerun that never ends.

What both men fail to realize is that most Illinois residents want a resolution to the budget, and more broadly, to the state’s mountain of problems.

Most Illinois residents understand that they will probably have to pay more in taxes for fewer government services, at least in the short term. Most Illinois residents also understand that organized labor is not as powerful as it once was and that there are reasonable reforms that would make the state more attractive to businesses. Most Illinois residents realize that the policies of the past, implemented under Madigan’s watch, are not working.

One of the main jobs of state government is to establish a budget. Failure to do that is a cataclysmic failure by both the governor’s office and the General Assembly.

Residents should send a clear message that those who delay dealing with this issue will be punished, not rewarded, at the polls.

Left image: Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton listen as Rauner speaks about making changes in the state on Monday Jan. 12, 2015 at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS). Right image: Rauner watches from his seat in the audience as President Barack Obama speaks on the designation of the Pullman National Monument Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015 at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS).

(c) 2016 the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.)

Visit the Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.) at www.herald-review.com.

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