The state of Illinois is approaching two years without a state budget, and both sides of the aisle don’t appear to be any closer to a compromise.
As a bipartisan effort to pass a grand bargain deal appeared to have momentum last week, hope was suddenly squelched with plenty of blame being thrown around by both sides.
Joining WLDS’ AM Conversation yesterday was State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer, who touched on a number of subjects from the failure of the grand bargain agreement, future pay for state workers and his biggest concerns as the calendar churns out another day without a balanced state budget.
Davidsmeyer believes some aspects of the grand bargain are salvageable. For that to happen however, he says it’ll require more involvement from House Speaker Michael Madigan.
“I think that pieces and parts of it can come together. The reality is as long as there’s a will, there’s a way. But we also have to think about history, and at no point in recent history has there been a budget without the Speaker’s direct involvement. So until he’s ready to negotiate, we can talk until we’re blue in the face,” says Davidsmeyer.
Last month, Davidsmeyer co-sponsored a bill along with Representative Avery Bourne that would ensure continued pay for state workers even without a state budget. As for where that stands now, Davidsmeyer says Democrats have yet to act on it.
“I think that (state workers) know that we’re working on. We just held a press conference yesterday because the Democrat sponsor of the bill that we had, we said ‘look, we’ll give you the bill, we’ll alleviate your concerns and let you run it, if you want credit for it, go for it,’ and she hasn’t acted on any of that in the last three weeks. So we’re trying to more forward, we’re trying to push some pressure on it to say ‘look, we have services that we are required to provide by law, by court order, by federal order.’ If we don’t do that, it’s going to be a major, major problem,” explains Davidsmeyer.
Davidsmeyer says his biggest concern right now when it comes to Illinois’ budget woes, is the lack of state funding for education.
“My biggest concern is, I think our K-through-12 schools, if we don’t have a budget for them for next year that’s going to be a major sticking point. I hope it’s not used as a political tool to force us to vote for increased spending. The reality is, the longer we overspend, the harder it’s going to be on future years. And I’m willing to make the tough decisions. There’s a lot of people that are more worried about just being there and having a fancy title, but when it comes time to make the tough decisions, I’ll be there,” says Davidsmeyer.
Another topic discussed by Davidsmeyer was the prospect of gambling expansion in Illinois. To hear our full interview with Davidsmeyer, check out our website at WLDS/WEAI.com.