Senate Dems: ‘Dose of reality’ on current spending with no budget

SHARE Senate Dems: ‘Dose of reality’ on current spending with no budget
SHARE Senate Dems: ‘Dose of reality’ on current spending with no budget

SPRINGFIELD — The state has committed to pay out nearly 90 percent of the cash it normally spends even though there’s no budget in place, according to an analysis by Senate Democrats.

“By anyone’s definition, what you would have expected to be the budget is going out the door,” Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, said Thursday.

The spending of 89.4 percent of the general revenue funds is a mix of court orders, consent decrees, required state spending and other agreements, Senate Democrats said.

The analysis comes as the budget impasse in Springfield rages on a month and half into the new fiscal year.

The findings mean most of the state’s spending is “baked in, and that leaves very little room to make decisions that will result in a balanced budget,” Biss said.

Donovan Borvan, an attorney for Gov. Bruce Rauner told a House committee this week that “a significant portion of the state budget is consumed by statutory payments and spending required by consent decrees.”

The issue of “governing by court-order” has been a hot-topic in Springfield this week.

A House revenue committee met this week to “develop a count on how much money the governor has agreed to spend during the current budget year,” House Speaker Michael Madigan said Wednesday.

Madigan said court orders such as one from St. Clair County, which requires the state to pay its workers in full, and the governor’s endorsement of elementary and secondary school funding means “you’re very close to 100 percent of what the governor estimates will be available to spend during the current budget year.”

The House committee will continue to meet to determine how much is going out, Madigan said.

In a statement, a Rauner spokeswoman said the governor has sought measures that “would result in billions of dollars in savings” but none of the reforms have been enacted by the Legislature.

And she took another shot at the speaker saying, the “Madigan Democrats continue to support the failed status quo and push only for tax increases which failed to solve any problems over the last four years.”

Rep. David Harris, R, Arlington Heights, said in committee Wednesday that he agrees with the characterization that the state isn’t being run by legislators and the governor and instead is being run by the courts. He said that removes authority from state officials on how to spend taxpayer money.

“That’s not what courts are for,” Biss said. “It means the governor and the General Assembly haven’t done what they’re supposed to do.”

In their analysis, Senate Democrats determined that the state is now on “a trajectory to spend an estimated $38 billion this fiscal year.”

The largest chunk of spending will be for Medicaid, with $8.9 billion committed to the program. Earlier this month, Rauner’s administration announced it would continue paying for the program during the budget impasse.

The remaining 10 percent of funds that hasn’t yet been committed is for higher education, education grants and human services grants and programs, among others.

Democrats budgeted $36 billion in the spending plan the governor vetoed. Senate Democrats said the state is expected collected $33 billion in revenue this year.

Biss said this information should be a “dose of reality.”

He said, “I hope it will jolt everybody into coming together and bridging the gap and stopping the madness.”

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