Did you feel a small seismic event on Friday? It wasn’t the New Madrid Fault shaking one off. This event was centered in Springfield. More specifically at the state capitol building.
State lawmakers were preparing to pass a $600 million emergency funding bill that would take excess cash from one fund to keep our state colleges and universities functioning and put the promised tuition grant money in the hands of needy students. Then began the same obstructionist behaviors we’ve seen from House Speaker Michael Madigan and his fellow travelers.
There was a Thursday night delay. Then there was a proposal to put social service spending on the bill — a poison pill that would have forced Gov. Bruce Rauner to veto the college spending to avoid the unbudgeted social service spending.
But then a funny thing happened. There was that seismic shift. Some of the lawmakers, so sickened of the gamesmanship that they were literally crying and visibly ill, drew a line instead of toeing the line. They revolted and shoved that poison pill back from whence it came.
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Madigan was not a happy camper. In fact, he sure sounded like a sore loser: “Time will tell if Governor Rauner has further intentions of destroying our state institutions and human service providers, or if he will begin working with us to craft a full-year budget that is not contingent on passage of his demands that will destroy the middle class.”
Would that be the middle class that funds Madigan’s campaigns, e.g. state workers and public unions, or the middle class that faces massive tax hikes that still won’t come close to balancing the budget, if we had one?
We need a state budget, even one that’s 303 days late and comes after our careening ship of state has gouged a hole that will soon hit $11 billion.
Madigan needs to learn from this college funding issue. That shaky feeling means his power base is not as secure as he thought. Lawmakers are literally sick of being lackeys in the demolition of our state’s institutions.
Rauner certainly sees the shift, and a chance for some bipartisan compromise and progress. “We are hopeful the General Assembly will build on this bipartisan momentum in the weeks ahead as we negotiate a balanced budget with reform for fiscal years 2016 and 2017,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in a statement.
Maybe it’s time to pour a new foundation and actually build something in Springfield.