David McSweeney: We Need a Budget Now

Dispatches recently spoke with state Representative David McSweeney about the unprecedented budget impasse in Illinois is that is making headlines nationally, such as this one last year from Bloomberg: “Illinois Faces Millions in Extra Debt Costs From Budget Fiasco.”

For many years, Republicans and conservatives around Illinois have been calling for numerous state government reforms — fiscal and otherwise. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has decided to force the matter through a budget confrontation that continues on into 2016.

Not all Republicans are happy with Rauner’s strategy, however, and State Representative David McSweeny is probably the most vocal critic of the failure of budget negotiations.

“Ninety-one percent of the budget is on auto pilot,” McSweeny pointed out in a recent interview, the bills that are being paid are “either due to court orders or consent decrees or continuing appropriations.”

“One of the things that’s happening now,” McSweeny said, “is that the programs that are not being funded are for the truly vulnerable citizens, the homeless, developmentally disabled children, the whole thing is backwards. That nine percent that’s not being funded — we’re destroying our social services infrastructure.”

There are no caps without a budget

Right now the budget is on the path to a $6 million dollar budget deficit.

Everything from legislators’ pay to fully funding the pension obligations — right now there are no caps in place on Medicaid and other programs. The problem is is that every day that goes by without a budget the deficit increases.

There is no way to shut down the government and save money since we actually then operate under a system where there are no caps. That’s why we need a budget now without a tax increase.

Some Democrats are talking about a massive income tax increase or a retirement tax increase. That’s the wrong answer.

Instead we need to cut spending. We need real pension reform. And we need to do it now — there is nothing good that is going to happen by waiting since the deficit will continue to increase.

What we will see are more downgrades to our credit ratings. Which means that it will cost a lot more money to borrow in the future.

A tax increase is not the answer. But neither is waiting — waiting only makes the problem worse.

I’m supportive of what Rauner is holding out for — such as redistricting and workers comp reform. But we need a budget now. Otherwise, the deficit is going to get much higher and we’re going to have more downgrades and it’s going to be very difficult to recover from that.

We should be adopting a budget without a tax increase and we should be voting on these items. That’s the point — nothing good is going to happen by waiting and a tax increase is a disaster.

We should be adopting a budget without a tax increase and we should be voting on these items. We should be adopting a zer0-based budget — we should start the budget at zero and build up from there.

For more information about David McSweeney, visit his website at www.DavidMcSweeney.com.