Hoping to maximize chances of a balanced budget being approved prior to the General Assembly’s adjournment date of May 31, State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) joined several House Republican colleagues this week in sending a letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan, calling on her to use the power of her office to force legislators to adopt a revenue estimate prior to the filing and passage of any spending bills for FY 2018. Forty members of the House Republican Caucus signed the letter.
The letter cites several prior court rulings and instances which set precedent for the Attorney General to intervene to ensure the Illinois Constitution is upheld. Both the Constitution and state law require the General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate on which to base a balanced budget for the forthcoming fiscal year, an action which legislators have failed to take in either of the past two years and haven’t yet done for the coming fiscal year.
“Budget implementation is a multi-step process, and step one requires the House and Senate to come to agreement on a revenue estimate,” said Reick. “With just 12 days remaining until the adjournment date set forth in the Illinois Constitution, the time for shenanigans and political games is long past. We must approve a revenue estimate without delay, and definitely before any spending bills for FY 2018 are considered.”
Reick is a Chief Co-Sponsor of House Joint Resolutions 49, 50 and 51, which provide three separate options for legitimate revenue estimate that could be used as the starting point for the creation of a balanced budget. HJR 49 uses the non-partisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) FY2018 revenue estimate of $31.147 billion, HJR 50 uses the FY2018 estimate published by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) of $31.476 billion, and HJR 51 utilizes an average of the COGFA and GOMB revenue estimates, or $31.312 billion, as the starting point for the creation of the FY2018 budget.
“We have a legal obligation under Article VIII, Section two of the Illinois Constitution to approve a revenue estimate so we can fulfil our duty of creating a balanced budget,” said Reick. “Further delays in the process are unacceptable and put us at great risk for going into a third year without a budget. We need to get this job done.”
Lawmakers return to Springfield on Monday, May 22 and are scheduled to be in session all but one day through May 31.