On Wednesday, Gov. Rauner will present to the General Assembly his plan for dealing with a $9 billion state budget deficit.
This is not a figure I’ve pulled out of thin air. The governor’s budget director, Hans Zigmund, on Feb. 7 confirmed to members of the Senate that there is a $9 billion shortfall in the budget.
A significant portion of that is the state’s $8.3 billion in unpaid bills, including $1.1 billion in what he termed “unappropriated liabilities” – money the governor’s administration spent on its own without authorization from lawmakers.
Gov. Rauner has said he intends to finally propose a balanced budget to the General Assembly during his Valentine’s Day budget address – one that includes rolling back the bipartisan tax increase that was passed last summer to get the state out of the crisis it had been operating under for two years. He also pledged to fully fund Illinois’ public schools under the new formula that lawmakers of both parties approved.
It doesn’t take a math whiz to see there’s a problem with the governor’s rhetoric. How will he balance the budget, plug a $9 billion deficit and at the same time scale back revenue? Spending cuts will only take him so far.
I look forward to hearing Wednesday how Gov. Rauner plans to do all of this. He has an opportunity to hit the reset button. Illinois desperately needs him to start things off on the right foot this year.
Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)
Chairman of the Illinois Senate Appropriations II committee