Newspapers across Illinois, including this one, shared an editorial Wednesday calling for Gov. Bruce Rauner and State House Speaker Michael Madigan to end their game of political chicken and, at long last, give us a state budget.
The headline said it all: “Enough.”
Has the state legislature become so dysfunctional that its members believe the stopgap deal reached at Thursday’s deadline entitles them to bouquets and parades?
On the final day of the fiscal year, with their backs against a deadline and under pressure from justifiably impatient constituents, they approved a partial spending plan that includes $11 billion to ensure schools can stay open until spring.
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That’s a relief to educators and parents but, really, it’s a minimum-effort capitulation that doesn’t scratch the surface of what’s “enough.”
The $75 billion measure keeps the lights on at the state Capitol Building through December and sets the stage for an ugly referendum on our elected officials. But what of the long-term health of our state’s economy?
What of the integrity of the Illinois constitution? For the second straight year, Rauner, Madigan and those who fall behind into their divided camps have collectively thumbed their nose at it.
And what of the freshmen legislators who will be newly elected this November? They’ll have the privilege of sorting out a mess left by their predecessors just in time for the treasury to run dry.
Some, including Republican Sen. Dave Luechtefeld and Democratic Rep. Jay Hoffman have said the negotiated $75 billion spending deal is “a good start.”
Good starts don’t happen at the 11th hour, least of all when your state is facing its second straight fiscal year as the only one without an operating budget.
Not by a damn sight.