House passes budget that gov’s office dubbed ‘phoniest phony’
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SPRINGFIELD — The more than year-long war between House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner intensified Wednesday as the veteran speaker defiantly passed a no-reforms budget — and Rauner’s office threatened to veto what it called the “phoniest phony budget in recent Illinois history.”
Designed to give an extra boost to Chicago Public Schools, the bill — which covers fiscal year 2017 — passed the House 63-53 Wednesday evening. It must now go to the Illinois Senate, where its fate is unclear.
Even before the bill was called for a vote, Rauner aides said the governor planned to veto it. And House Minority Leader Jim Durkin called Madigan’s budget bill “absolutely the biggest joke” he’s seen in his 18 years in Springfield.
After the vote — in which seven Democrats targeted in November elections voted no — many House Republicans began yelling for a vote verification. Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, got in a shouting match with Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, shouting “This is b——-.”
Many Republicans were also upset that the debate was cut short.
During the nearly 45-minute debate, Lang said Rauner continues to put his “personal political agenda ahead of the people of the state of Illinois” in his demands for “Turnaround Agenda” items within a budget.
And House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie said vows of “compromise” aren’t enough to solve the budget.
“I don’t think we can afford to count on compromise,” Flynn Currie said.
Many Republicans argued there wasn’t enough time to review the 500-page bill. Furthermore, Madigan chose to put the entire budget in one bill, which will force Rauner to act.
If Rauner vetoes the bill, which aides have said he’ll do, he’ll be seen on record as voting against education funding, which the Republican governor has vowed to protect. It could mean schools won’t open on time this fall.
It was the end to a dramatic day in the Capitol, and a clear sign that the power struggle between Madigan and Rauner wages on with no simple solution to end the 11-month budget impasse.
And it could mean the state will once again be without a budget come July 1. The state has been without a budget since July 1, 2015 after Rauner vetoed a Democratic spending plan, while demanding reforms in exchange for signing off on a tax increase to close the deficit.
To make matters worse, as the tug of war between Madigan and Rauner continues, rank and file Republican legislators who have been working for months to solve the budget impasse in bipartisan working groups have said their recommendations aren’t included in Madigan’s bill.
And Madigan, after leaving a meeting with Rauner and the top legislative leaders Wednesday morning added fuel to the fire by saying “his agents” weren’t being “persuasive” in the working groups.
Details of Madigan’s proposal were revealed in an analysis sent to House Democrats on Tuesday.
They include a $700 million hike for schools, considered an “equity grant” in the memo, which would help CPS and other high poverty school districts. CPS would get about $287 million, in addition to $100 million to help pay for pensions.
The plan calls for spending $13.5 billion out of the state’s general revenue fund, which comes from taxes. Without a budget, most of the state has been funded by court orders and consent decrees.
Early childhood programs would also get $75 million more in funding. And $4.6 billion would be spent on social service agencies that help the poor and elderly.
But agencies that have been kept alive by consent decrees during the impasse are not accounted for in the spending plan. Flynn Currie called the bill an “insurance policy” to make sure funds are being paid for the state’s most vulnerable.
A Rauner administration source on Wednesday said the proposed budget is $7 billion out of balance, proposing to spend $39 billion, of which only $32 billion is available.
“It is by far the phoniest phony budget in recent Illinois history — and that’s saying something,” the administration source said.
The administration source said the Madigan spending plan would force an income tax rate of 5.5 percent to balance the budget.
“In essence, a vote for this budget is a vote to force a $1,000 tax hike on the average Illinois family,” the source said.
And Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger also weighed in, predicting “catastrophic” consequences from Madigan’s blueprint, including eight-to-nine-month delays of everything from state payments to schools to elected officials’ own paychecks.
Rauner’s own proposed budget, which he detailed during his budget address earlier this year, left a $3.5 billion deficit. At the time, he said lawmakers could either give him the freedom to cut the deficit on his own or work with him to fill it with a combination of cuts and new tax revenue.
Munger, who has been touring the state and talking about the state’s giant backlog of debt, said Madigan’s plan would dig Illinois even deeper in debt.
Munger also said the spending plan would delay state payments by eight to nine months, including payments for small businesses, nonprofits, schools, hospitals, pay for elected officials and others.
“The consequences of implementing this proposed budget would be catastrophic to those who are already suffering from the state’s continued fiscal mismanagement,” Munger said in a statement.
“Today, Illinois has more than $7 billion in unpaid bills and payment delays are running more than 6 weeks behind at best. If the proposed budget is passed, our unpaid bills would surge past $15 billion, with payments delayed an unprecedented 8-9 months.”
Two working groups earlier this month produced recommendations for a state budget in month 11 of the impasse. The “budgeteer” working group’s recommendations included an outline for a budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 that included about $2.5 billion in cuts and $5.4 billion in new revenue, partially produced by raising the state’s personal income tax rate to 4.85 percent.
A group of Republican legislators who are members of the working groups decried the Madigan budget plan, and his comments about the groups.
“In each and every instance we have had meaningful, substantive discussions, professional, collegiate, and progress has been made,” Sandack said. “It is not a show trial. It is not something that’s a façade.”
Sandack said the longtime speaker is “categorically misinformed” about the progress the working groups have made.
“In each instance, they have been productive and in each instance they have been persuasive,” Sandack said, calling Madigan’s budget a “very coordinated effort to derail the bipartisan rank and file process.”