On Memorial Day, in the middle of the night, Illinois House Democrats voted for a new State budget that included $650 million in tax increases, legislator pay raises and a billion dollars in pork projects for Democrats’ legislative districts.
One of the root causes of Illinois’ fiscal chaos is the lack of transparency in the budgeting process. Budgets should be thoroughly vetted through both chambers of the General Assembly with a mandatory period for public comment. What absolutely should not happen is what we saw at the end of May, when the final amendment to a more than 3,000 page budget bill was filed just minutes before the House vote.
This budget was passed after midnight and was so big, and so dense, that not even the people who drafted it knew what was in it before Representatives’ were required to take a vote. Only weeks later was it discovered that because of catastrophic drafting errors as a result of being pushed through in the dead of night – nearly half of the budget couldn’t be spent until June 1, 2022, instead of July 1, 2021 when the current budget expires.
Subsequently, the Illinois House returned to Springfield on Wednesday, June 16 to debate Governor Pritzker’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 2800 to correct the drafting errors from the rushed Memorial Day budget. However, 71 Democrats didn’t show up to Springfield to vote to fix their own mistakes. Instead, the House changed rules of procedure to allow members on vacation to vote remotely.
Perhaps if Illinois had a proper and transparent vetting process for the state budget in the first place, such as the 30-day public review that is required of local governments, a budget with hundreds of typos and missing implementation dates would not have needed fixing in the first place. Likewise, even more taxpayer money would not have been wasted on travel, per diem, and extra technology needs for remote voting for an extra day of session either.