We Must Move Our State In the Right Direction

Prior to the adjournment of the General Assembly’s spring session, two bills were introduced by House Republicans .The bills will eliminate budgeting gimmicks, promote financial stability and ensure the doors of our academic institutions open on time.

First, House Bill (HB) 6583 provides tangible funding for K-12 education. It fully funds the General State Aid formula for the first time in seven years and also contains a Hold Harmless grant to ensure no school district receives less than they were allotted for Fiscal Year 2016, even if student enrollment has declined.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) enrollment is declining. CPS has lost more than 40,000 students since 2002, yet CPS is demanding more money. This has been a roadblock in negotiations between the minority and majority party. The majority party maintains focus on protecting CPS interests, at the cost of holding K-12 students hostage to secure more revenue for CPS. This is why I support HB 6583, which does not provide a bailout for the financial mismanagement of CPS pension funds of for their overall system. It funds our students.

Second, is the FY16 Bridge and FY17 Stop Gap Funding Bill, House Bill 6585. This bill includes necessary operational funding, Budget Stabilization Funds, and appropriations for community-based human service providers for FY16. This allotment will help mend what was left unfunded without a budget. For FY17, the bill provides $600 million for higher education to fund universities and colleges. The Departments of Human Services, Aging, and Public Health receive $180 million and the bill includes proper provisions for capital projects, such as school construction.

There are budget working groups negotiating to find some compromise on major issues, but the State of Illinois cannot wait to take action on these budgetary items. One fact remains: we cannot pass a budget that perpetuates uncertainty and economic volatility. The state’s government needs to foster a stable environment for its businesses and citizens.

The people of Illinois voted for a bipartisan government in the last election, but we have seen democratic-only proposals that spend $7 billion more beyond our financial means. Those proposals are not bipartisan nor are they commonsense approaches. HB 6583 and HB 6585 are non-controversial proposals that provide the needed relief for schools and essential operations.

State Representative Joe Sosnowski