Sen. Bill Brady today jumpstarted the conversation to end a two-year budget impasse as he introduced a full and balanced Fiscal Year 2018 budget that protects the state’s highest priority programs, reins in spending and eliminates two-thirds of the state’s mountain of unpaid bills.
“I have always said that a balanced budget must be an integral part of the grand compromise that the Senate has been working on,” said Brady (R-Bloomington). “While I appreciate the hard work and progress that has gone into some of these proposals, nobody has been talking about a budget. What I’m proposing today is a balanced budget that takes into account the new revenues from that compromise but also includes more than $5 billion in general revenue fund spending cuts, adjustments and cost savings, including 5 percent across-the-board cuts for most of state government outside elementary and secondary education.”
Brady’s proposal provides for selling revenue bonds totaling $6 billion to significantly reduce the state’s backlog of unpaid bills and saving the state millions of dollars in late-payment interest costs. The overall proposal will take the total owed back to the June 2015 level of about $4.4 billion. The proposal also includes a hard-spending cap of roughly $36 billion in general funds.
“The state’s unpaid bills now total almost $13 billion, or $1,000 for every man, woman and child in the state. If we do nothing, our unpaid bills – what we owe to medical care providers, social service agencies and other vendors – will grow to more than $20 billion in the next two years. That’s not the message Illinois ought to be sending to the world, and it’s not the kind of system we should ask Illinoisans to accept.
“No one wants higher taxes, and cuts are sometimes unpopular. I think many Illinoisans are prepared to accept the temporary need for increased revenues to meet the challenges we as a state face, but only if we in government first do our part to control government spending,” Brady said. “I believe this budget proposal meets that goal and would put Illinois on a path to fiscal recovery.”
Brady said his proposal will be filed in the Senate this afternoon.
It fully funds the school aid-formula and includes many of the budget-balancing measures proposed by Governor Rauner in February, including the $1.3 billion in pension reform savings, sale of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago and $435 million savings in restructuring of the state employee group health insurance program. It also includes new across-the-board cuts totaling nearly $800 million and holding MAP grants to their current level.