Harris urges vote on appropriations bill that 'recognizes needs' of state
Even a half-measure is better than nothing at this point, Rep. David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) suggested to fellow House members on Friday in urging a vote on Senate budget bill to provide essential funding to the state.
“I don’t like everything that is in this plan," he said. "Absolutely not. There will something in every budget plan that someone doesn’t like. But we need a spending plan that recognizes the needs of downstate, the city of Chicago and the suburbs. I believe this plan does that. I’m not going to let our universities lose their accreditation because we don’t have a spending plan in place.”
Lawmakers conducted a test vote on SB6 on Friday, but a final vote was delayed as the special 10-day session concluded. Lawmakers will reconvene on Saturday for an extra day, although Saturday is also the first of the 2018 fiscal year, meaning Illinois will enter its third straight year without a budget.
While SB6 will fund the state, it is only part of the equation, Harris declared.
“This is an appropriation bill," he said. "It’s not a revenue bill. It’s half the equation. It appropriates roughly $36.5 billion, which is down … from the $38 plus maybe even close to the $39 billion that we are spending now due to court orders and consent decrees and all those other things that are forcing us to send out checks without appropriations.”
SB6 will fund pension payments, education, human services, health care, youth programs, state police and other items to keep Illinois running. It's not enough, Harris said, but the time for pointing fingers is past.
“I’ll tell you something: We all share the blame, myself included,” he said. “Because we have enabled our leaders to do this. We have enabled our leaders to get to this position, and that is unfortunate. But now is the time to bring this nightmare to an end. Now is the time to stop quarreling and start governing. Now is the time to stop confrontation, and go to compromise. The spending plan in front of us today is reasonable. It’s one that addresses our needs. It’s one that moves us forward in a responsible way.”