The difference between the two parties was in clear contrast this week, as Gov. Rauner and Senate Democrats pushed forward in two opposite directions in response to the looming $6 billion budget deficit.
Rauner announced a total of $400 million in spending cuts, in anticipation of a lack of agreement by the start of the next fiscal year on July 1. The cuts include:
* Freezing all vehicle purchases for the state police
* Grounding the state’s airplane passenger service
* Closing five state museums to visitors
* Suspending the State Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (SLIHEAP)
* Identifying one or two juvenile correctional facilities to close
* No awarding of grants for the Department of Natural Resource’s Open Space Land Acquisition Development Program in FY 2016
* Immediate suspension of all future incentive offers to businesses, including Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credits.
While Gov. Rauner began the process of anticipating an austere budget, due either to the absence of a compromise budget on July 1 or the Democrats’ passage last week of a spending plan that’s $4 billion out of balance, Senate Democrats went in the opposite direction with a significant spending proposal that would put the state’s balance sheet in even larger deficit.
Their proposal includes:
·Increasing in the state’s minimum wage, to $11 per hour in four years
·Free tuition and fees at Illinois community colleges
·State-mandated employer-paid sick time
·A state tax credit for tuition and higher education
The Senate Democrats failed to provide a cost estimate for their proposals, or an analysis of how much further these proposals would put the state into deficit.
Illinois currently faces a $6.1 billion budget deficit, by far the biggest of any state. Democrats passed a “spending plan” last week with a nearly $4 billion deficit.