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Republicans want AG Madigan to reissue opinion they already have

Monday, Jul 31, 2017

* From the Illinois Constitution with emphasis added by me

The General Assembly by law shall make appropriations for all expenditures of public funds by the State. Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year..

* The House Republicans have been complaining for months that the House Democrats hadn’t released an official revenue estimate, which they’ve done in the past. And they want Attorney General Lisa Madigan to step in. From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

Did the Illinois General Assembly pass an illegal budget? House Republicans are asking Attorney General Lisa Madigan to weigh in on whether lawmakers skipped a vital step in the process.

For nearly two years, state Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, has been pleading with House leadership to adopt a revenue estimate in its budget-making process, which he believes state law requires.

In May, Wheeler and many others asked Madigan to give her opinion as to whether lawmakers need to officially adopt an expectation of how much they’ll bring in before they can pass a budget. He did not receive a response, although Madigan was not required to provide one.

The attorney general is, however, required to respond to Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, who sent her the same request in May. There are very few exceptions to state law regarding official opinions that would allow her to ignore his request. State law says that the attorney general will “give written opinions, when requested by either branch of the General Assembly, or any committee thereof, upon constitutional or legal questions.” But the official opinion guidelines say “all guidelines are subject to exception where special circumstances can be shown to warrant an exception.”

“I don’t make these requests lightly,” Durkin said Thursday. “I’m simply asking for the attorney general to officially memorialize what she said informally in 2014.”

Durkin said that, three years ago, Madigan informally said the revenue estimate was necessary.

“It’s been more than two months since my request, and her silence on an issue as important as this is extremely concerning,” Durkin said.

I’m not sure why resending a new opinion on the exact same topic from 2014 would do any good. Like Durkin says, he’s “simply asking for the attorney general to officially memorialize what she said informally in 2014.” It seems like much ado about nothing.

You can click here to see the 2014 opinion. Whether official or unofficial, her opinion isn’t binding and so can’t change anything. Also, I really doubt anyone could convince the judicial branch to start micromanaging the legislative appropriations process.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

8 Comments
  1. - walker - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 4:11 pm:

    Darken knows full well two things: That the Constitution requires the Governor to propose a budget which spends no more than what the Governor formally forecasts to be the state’s revenue. That the GA must appropriate for expenditure no more than what the GA formally forecasts to be the state’s revenue.

    He also knows that the normal expectation was for the GA to agree on the future year’s revenue as forecasted by COGFA, early in the budgeting process.

    Nothing has been normal for 2+ years. None of those three things occurred as they should. Bad practices all around.

    Durkin is just looking for further ammo to include in his political attack ads that Dems should not have overridden Rauner’s budget veto. The reality that Rauner’s own budget proposals, as far as they could be teased out, were more out of balance than the GA’s, is to be ignored.


  2. - Norseman - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 4:12 pm:

    Oh those political games we play.

    Durkin, save us all the baloney and go ahead and file a lawsuit. Just don’t pay for it with taxpayer money. I’m sure Rauner or IPI would reimburse you from their megabuck funds.


  3. - Undiscovered country - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 4:19 pm:

    so at the risk of being “lawyerly”, the legal presumption is that every law passed by the General Assembly is valid. In addition, there is a presumption that a law signed off on by the legislative leaders (President and Speaker) have met the legal prerequisites for enactment. So IF the House had adopted a revenue figure by resolution and went beyond it, THEN there could be an argument, but here, there was NO resolution adopted so there was no revenue estimate that was appropriated above…. With the presumptions, this is all faux drama, and not a legal impediment.


  4. - walker - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 4:22 pm:

    “Durkin” not “Darken” above.

    I didn’t mean it — I like Jimmy D. generally.


  5. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 4:40 pm:

    ===and go ahead and file a lawsuit===

    Against…. himself? Would he even have standing?


  6. - Mama - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 4:41 pm:

    Rauner knew that increasing the state income tax to 4.95 would not be enough to cover Illinois’s bills. I’m sure that is the reason why he told the legislature to reduce the state income tax increase to 2.2.


  7. - Norseman - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 4:54 pm:

    Standing would be one of the issues I can see as an impediment to a lawsuit’s success. UC mentioned others. I know Durkin is simply using this as another dot point in their partisan attack.


  8. - Rabid - Tuesday, Aug 1, 17 @ 8:28 am:

    Goose-stepping to the IPI tune


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