Skillicorn cut-and-reform budget never got a hearing in House
In an ultimately unsuccessful effort to prevent the General Assembly from adjourning its spring session without a budget in place, Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) unveiled his own budget proposal that eliminated the state’s deficit purely through reforms and spending cuts.
“I’m frustrated and flabbergasted that we don’t have a budget yet,” Skillicorn said in a press conference to unveil his plan. “…[T]his impasses was already a year and a half old when I was sworn in. My question to some of the leadership is, why weren’t we discussing a budget in February? Why weren’t we debating this? Why wasn’t this in the hearing process? Why is it today, on the last day of session before the deadline, that we haven’t yet seen a budget that we’ve voted on in the House? I don’t think that’s appropriate.”
Skilicorn’s budget proposal, dubbed the Right Now budget, did not rely upon unpopular tax increases, which made the Senate’s budget proposal unpalatable to many members of the House, including some Democrats. In a release on the budget, Skillicorn cited a recent poll from Fabrizio, Lee & Associates that showed 64 percent of Illinoisans being against income tax increases and 49 percent wanting to see the budget balanced through spending cuts alone.
“My constituents keep telling me that they don’t get a very good return on their investment,” Skillicorn said in the press conference. “They tell me that they pay the highest taxes in the Midwest already. So I think it’s unfair to ask them to pay any higher without something in value. Something in value might be reforms; something in value might be cuts; something in value might be a state that isn’t dysfunctional anymore.”
To achieve this, Skillicorn built upon several budget plans and measures that had been proposed throughout the session, as well as some of his own ideas. According to his release, he primarily looked at Sens. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) and Dan McConchie’s (R-Hawthorn Woods) Taxpayer Bargain budget, Sen. Bill Brady’s (R-Bloomington) budget and the Senate Democratic Budget.
Skillicorn said his proposal was aggressive on cuts and reforms. In his release, he acknowledged that measures included in his budget would not be popular and that even he would not vote for them if they were not necessary.
“If something like my Right Now budget were passed today, we would be on a significant improvement compared to autopilot,” Skillicorn said in the conference. “Right now on autopilot we’re spending a lot of money, much more than we’ve budgeted in the past, much more than if we’d passed a budget two years ago. But if we pass something like this, we wouldn’t be on autopilot anymore, and now the Legislature would control appropriations again.”
Skillicorn unveiled his plan on the last day of the General Assembly’s spring session, but it was not considered by the House. House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) announced soon after the close of the session that the House will meet throughout June in a continuous session, but any budget agreement will now require a three-fifths' majority to pass rather than a simple majority.
“The time has come for the General Assembly to stop the partisan bickering and finger-pointing,” Skillicorn said in a statement. “It is our Constitutional and fiduciary responsibility as the legislative branch to appropriate the finances necessary for the state to operate. We can no longer afford to let one more day pass where our most vulnerable suffer and the education of our children are held hostage as pawns. Illinois is running out of time and money. We must pass a truly balanced budget Right Now!”
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