Election, downgrades loom; still no action in Springfield

Neither the outcome of the election nor the threat of another credit downgrade may change the status quo of broken budgets and no reforms in Springfield.

Illinois state lawmakers may be focused on the election, which is a month away, but some don’t expect much movement on a budget or reforms during the following lame duck session.

Republican state Rep. Steve Andersson, R-Geneva, said he doesn’t expect the GOP to change their focus on reforms and a balanced budget.

“We have always been in the business of compromise,” Andersson said. “We’re always in the business of trying to drive that concerned to a reasonable budget conclusion.”

Andersson said lawmakers need to make the painful and difficult decisions to get a balanced budget on the books.

As to the outcome of the Nov. 8 election, Democratic state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, said it likely won’t change much.

“I hope I’m wrong and that there is an effort to come together and get a budget, but I have not talked to too many people who actually believe that,” Nekritz said.

Last week, ratings agency Fitch threatened the state with a credit downgrade, saying they’ll watch what Springfield does in the lame duck session after the November election. Democratic state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said she doesn’t expect that threat to move the parties closer together.

“We’ve been downgraded during this standoff,” Cassidy said. “The threat of downgrade has loomed over us throughout and that hasn’t seemed to get folks anymore cooperative.”

Both Nekritz and Cassidy said they doubt party leaders will wake up after the election with a new-found spirit of compromise.

Andersson said economic reforms and a truly balanced budget have to come together.

“We can’t keep doing stopgaps,” Andersson said. “We can’t keep operating without a budget and just with consent decrees.”

Lawmakers passed a stopgap spending bill this summer, but it only funds government operations through the end of the calendar year.

Illinois hasn’t had a full year’s budget since July of 2015. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said state lawmakers haven’t passed a balanced budget since the late 1980s.

The new General Assembly meets in January after the election and the fall veto session.

–Illinois News Network

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