Rep. Will Davis (D-East Hazel Crest) said he would be happy to spend days in Springfield working to settle the state’s budget crisis. The holdup for him and other Democrats is Gov. Bruce Rauner’s insistence that his “turnaround agenda” must be acted upon before any budget items can be addressed.
“I think from the Democratic side – for whatever criticisms we’re taking – I think you’d get members like me who would be happy to stay in Springfield if we’re just talking about the budget,” Davis, whose district includes Homewood and Flossmoor, told the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle at a March interview.
The governor approved a sliver of the budget – funding of K-12 schools – and vetoed the remainder of the budget passed by Democrats in June 2015. Most state bills are being paid by court order. Davis admits the approved budget showed a deficit, but added the governor’s proposed budget had a deficit as well.
In May 2015, Rauner gave the legislature turnaround agenda items he wanted passed before he would consider any budget issues: elected officials’ term limits; a new design on drawing legislative districts; reform to worker’s compensation costs; tort reform; and a property tax freeze that includes local decisions on paying union wages on government projects. The governor has dropped two other proposals: judicial election donation limits on trial lawyers and “right to work” zones.
“The budget shouldn’t be held to get to these reforms. They’re substantive issues, I’m not trying to take anything away from that, but let’s talk about those separately,” Davis stressed.
Davis noted that if Rep. Jim Durkin, GOP leader in the Illinois House, told legislators “we want to talk about the budget and the budget only, this is not a conversation about the governor’s reforms, I think that would change the dynamics of the conversation immediately.”
The legislature is in recess and is expected back in Springfield April 4. Rauner again this week blamed Democrats for the nine-month delay in passing a 2016 budget that is wreaking havoc on state agencies, nonprofits and higher education.
Davis recognizes the hurt. He said there are proposals on the table that lift the mandate of repaying cash swept from select funds that can help underwrite these necessary costs. Another proposal to cover MAP grants for college students is paid for by the suspension of corporate loopholes.
Neither of those proposals was accepted by Republican legislators, he said.