What a difference six months has made. In January, Illinois families were hopeful that newly inaugurated Governor JB Pritzker and the Democratic super-majorities in the House and Senate would deliver on at least some of the big things they’d ordered in the November election. The most critical challenge for lawmakers was crafting a budget that invested in critical services, displayed true fiscal discipline, and offered meaningful evidence that stability was the priority.
At the end of the legislative session in May, Governor Pritzker had successfully led Democrats and Republicans to a place of rare agreement. The budget they’d designed earned bipartisan support and did it without raising taxes or destructive, irresponsible cuts.
If there is one word to describe the FY20 budget negotiated by Democrats, it is “disciplined.” Consider the following about next year’s bipartisan budget:
- The estimated revenues for next year are considered by respected economists and fiscal experts as well-thought-out and realistic. The $40.2 billion income is based on middle-of-the-road estimates instead of shell games and crossed fingers.
- While spending is higher than last year, it isn’t because of new programs or egregious giveaways. Year-after-year, some costs simply go up. In particular, there are commitments to finally pay contractual agreements with public professionals (that Bruce Rauner never paid), $375 million more for Illinois public schools, millions more for higher education, and the owed investments for pensions.
- Speaking of pensions, the budget doesn’t short-change the state’s promise to invest in our retirement systems. No games or gimmicks.
All of this is good news for Illinois. Democrats are showing the responsibility voters desperately desired when they cast their ballots in 2018. Governor Pritzker and legislative Democrats deserve a lot of praise for sparking the path to stability Illinois needs.