* Press release…
Below is a statement from State Rep. Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) on his support of the budget compromise that passed the House on Sunday with bipartisan support.
Yesterday I voted to create a balanced budget for the State of Illinois for the first time in more than 2 years by voting for SB 6 and 9. In addition to reducing spending by approximately 3 billion dollars, we needed to also increase revenue, which required an income tax increase to slightly lower than what Illinoisans were paying in 2014. I did not want to vote for a tax increase, and like my fellow Illinoisans, I do not want to pay a tax increase. However, it was, at this juncture, the only viable option.
Why? Here are the realities that we faced that led us to this place:
1. If we had not acted, as the bond markets opened today, the State would be downgraded to junk status- the first time for any state in the entire country. “Junk” is more than just a clever name. With a junk rating, most institutions legally cannot buy our bonds. This makes our ability to borrow virtually non-existent which is essential to even keeping minimal state services functioning. Without funding, our universities and community college faced de-accreditation. This would gut our institutions of higher education which not only are commercial drivers in the state, supporting entire communities, but provide education and opportunities keeping our students in Illinois to help build the future of our state. Instead, those students would be uprooted in the middle of their education, and they would have to find alternatives, if that is even possible.
2. The Comptroller advises that starting in July the state’s cashflow will enter a stage where we won’t have enough money to pay our core bills (these include items such as bond interest payments, state employees’ salaries or anything else) because we will only be paying back due bills. In other words, Illinois will have no money at all for expenditures, and being in junk bond status, no ability to borrow. Further, last week a Federal Judge ordered the state to prioritize payment of back due Medicaid payments to the tune of 600 million dollars a month in addition to everything else we are required to pay. It is not an exaggeration to say that there was the very real possibility that the state of Illinois would not be able to survive this added burden.
Simply put, the state was out of money and about to actually shut down and we were out of time as key financial raters threatened to reduce the credit rating of the state as soon as Monday. Yesterday was the absolute last chance to avoid this catastrophe and absolutely, the last and final resort we had.
Of course, nobody wants a tax increase.
Some have argued to “hold out” and pass a better designed budget with just budget cuts. This would require cutting as much as 45% of anything that was “cutable”. This means police, fire protection, schools, higher education and social services. The reality is “cuts only” did not have the votes. Without the votes, even the best budget will never become a reality. And in this case those votes simply did not exist and would not exist.
So, we were left with two bad choices and only two bad choices. As your legislator, I was sent here to govern and I had to pick the least bad of the two horrible choices. I chose to save the state first and continue to fight for reforms. The other option was to me unthinkable, irresponsible, and immoral. To allow the state to fail was in my eyes, just not an option. If I allowed that to happen, the resulting damage would spell disaster for our state and be decades in the recovery, if at all.
Now as a result of this action, the State can live on. More negotiations can and are happening and we continue to have a chance to improve our state. The other choice effectively ended the State of Illinois. As my friend Rep. David Harris said, I was not elected to preside of the destruction of our great state. That was not an option for me, either - I chose survival for the State of Illinois. And I believe I made the right choice given the circumstances.
* Meanwhile, Rep. John Cavaletto (R-Salem) explained his vote for a tax hike to a local radio station…
Cavaletto said the turning point for him came when the Republican caucus was given information on the devastating impact and scary situation the state’s bond rating being reduced to junk status would have on Illinois. He questioned how the state could build itself back from the bankrupt situation and said an increase in the income tax didn’t worry him as much.
Cavaletto said you could have heard a pin drop in the Republican caucus after the presentation.
* You may recall this comment by Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) during floor debate yesterday…
“I hate tax increases, hate them, and it will hurt small business to do this, but I also think it hurts small business when you ask them to do business with the state and then you don’t pay them,” she said. “We must have a balanced budget, and if that means that we must increase taxes right now to do it, I, like one of my other colleagues, know I’m probably going to get primaried on this,” she said, referring to the possibility of losing her seat in the next primary election.
“Do I want to raise taxes? Absolutely not. Do I think it’s the right thing to do down the road? Absolutely not. But I want you to remember what we’re doing here today. We’re paying the bills for our bad behavior, even before I came here.”
* Rep. Bryant was asked about that “I’m probably going to get primaried” remark on Will Stephens’ WXAN radio program…
“There are a couple of organizations in the state that are extremely far right, and their preference is to burn the place down and then build it back up again, and they are never going to think it’s ok to vote for a tax increase. “
Hmm. I wonder who she might be talk about?