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Lincoln Daily News
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Critical deadline looms for Illinois' overdue budget       Send a link to a friend

Dear Editor:

We are days away from a critical deadline -- we must pass a new state budget in the next week or a disastrous government shutdown could occur. If that happens, the responsibility will lie with Democrats: Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Senate President Emil Jones and House Speaker Michael Madigan. Unfortunately, if a shutdown does occur, the heaviest burden will not be placed upon the shoulders of any politician, but upon the shoulders of the millions of hardworking Illinois taxpayers.

If no new state budget is in place by the second week in August, schools may not open on time, because their state aid payments could be delayed. Thousands of state employees, including teachers, correctional officers and state troopers, may not get their paychecks, and Medicaid providers who care for the sick and elderly won't get paid. State offices offering vital services, like driver's license facilities, may have to close their doors.

As the chief budget negotiator for the House Republicans for many years, I never before have seen such a complete failure of leadership by the Democrats, who control both chambers of the General Assembly and the executive mansion. They have had since January to get to work on a budget, but rather than work on a budget, they were engaged in party infighting. Our first real budget meeting didn't occur until June, when we were already into overtime session.

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We have now been in overtime for two full months, the longest overtime session in Illinois history. To date, this overtime session has cost Illinois taxpayers more than $600,000, with nothing to show for it. The governor is no more willing to work with us today than he was in May and June. He continues to demand nothing less than passage of his massive universal health care program, with no regard for the state's other needs.

The governor also refuses to acknowledge the economic realities facing our state. We simply cannot afford to fund a massive state-run health care program with existing revenues, and his funding proposals, including the gross receipts tax and his scheme to lease the lottery, are dead.

There has been a glimmer of hope this week, as Speaker Madigan and Senate President Jones have agreed to work with Republican leaders Tom Cross and Frank Watson to craft a 12-month budget without the governor's input. We are all due back in the Capitol on Monday. If we can pass a budget through the General Assembly by the end of next week, and the governor promptly signs it, a shutdown can be averted.


Mark Beaubien
State representative

[Posted July 31, 2007]

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