Rep. Swanson’s May 30 Capitol News Update


  • $50 billion budget passes in the middle of the night
  • Lots of new spending, even with less revenue
  • Some positive developments
  • Missed opportunities

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House passes $50 billion budget, adjourns for the summer

Late on Friday night (actually, early on Saturday morning) the House passed a state budget which will spend more than $50 billion in taxpayer money. It was crafted behind closed doors and introduced first in the Senate, where it was rushed to passage Thursday night. The budget bill was 3425 pages long.

Despite assurances that the budget is balanced, it is in fact filled with gimmicks. It defers some Medicaid costs by implementing changes to the program halfway through the year. The budget does not include funds for pay increases in the new contract which goes into effect for some state employees later this fiscal year. It underfunds hospitals and the caregivers for the developmentally disabled. And it only budgets about half as much money for undocumented immigrant health care than the program is actually expected to cost.

As I told you last week, the devil is going to be in the details. The more details we find out about this budget, the worse it looks.

Revenue goes down, spending goes up

For the last couple of months Illinois’ fiscal watchdog agency has been warning that revenue is coming in below expectations. This is in part due to a slowdown in the economy which is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. But somehow the Democrat majority managed to find ways to add new spending into this budget.

Here are a few examples:

  • A legislative pay raise – on top of the pay raise they passed back in January.
  • More than a billion dollars in pork projects in Democrat-held districts
  • Governor Pritzker’s new big-ticket spending programs

Some positive developments in the budget too

As with any state budget, while there is much to be concerned about, there were some positive developments as well.

A few weeks ago I told you about our efforts to promote childhood literacy. This year’s budget includes $1.6 million for a statewide introduction of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to help young students get engaged with reading.

The budget also includes an extra $200 million for our underfunded pension system on top of the required annual contribution, and funding for a new program to address the problem of food deserts in rural areas without easy access to grocery stores.

It is a shame that these items could not have been voted on separately, but instead they were all put into one massive document that had to be either approved in its entirety, or voted against.

Important items left out of final week action

Estate Tax: Small farms and businesses will continue to be punished by the state’s overly burdensome estate tax. Progress was made on this issue, but unfortunately it did not move.

Developmentally Disabled: The developmentally disabled population and those who have been waiting for years on the PUNS list because there is a staff shortage due to the abysmal pay these workers receive will have to wait even longer. Illinois has been the worst in the nation for helping the developmentally disabled for decades.

Ethics Reform:  Even more disturbing is the fact that not a single bill to enact stronger anti-corruption reforms has been voted on by the House Ethics and Elections Committee. 

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