By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
Because it has been nearly nine-months since the state of Illinois has had a budget, Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-8th) late Tuesday warned each day there is no budget, it cost taxpayers $30 million a day.
That’s why Ford is asking Republicans to approve the $3.8 billion budget for their constituents. Gov. Bruce Rauner has once vetoed the budget because elected officials refused to approve his non-budgetary demands like tort reform and term limits, Ford said this budget is crucial for all of Illinoisans.
“The only thing we can do is to convince Republicans to do what is right,” said Ford. He was reminded that when Rauner took office he met with fellow Republicans and allegedly told them if they didn’t support him, he would run candidates against them.
Both Ford and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Donne Trotter confirmed that the incident did take place. “It’s up to the Republican constituent base to get their people in gear,” said Ford. “They are hurting their own people by not passing this budget.
“I encourage my Republican colleagues to do the right thing and to vote their constituent base. They all need senior social services, Medicaid,” said Ford.
The challenge in the state budget impasse is up to the House because the Senate passed its version of a $3.8 billion budget. Ironically, the House is due back in session on April 4, 2016, the 48th death anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The proceeding is expected to be a dramatic showdown between Democratic lawmakers and Rauner.
Trotter said the bill also includes funds for human services for prostate cancer, breast cancer prevention, autism, funds for redeploying those getting out of prison.” and other social programs.
“The Republicans always complain that we piecemeal legislation, so we gave them a whole package. It doesn’t put more money in the budget. What it does say is that when we finally get some money, these people get paid,” said Trotter.
“We put everybody back in because if they are not in line, they won’t get paid. This gives authorization for the 10 percent of the budget that is not being funded. It’s now up to the House but the governor can still veto it, again,” said Trotter.
Trotter said the budget crisis is causing a rippling effect and one that is costing taxpayers $30 million a day. “Any time you are delinquent in your bills and your bond ratings go down and the interest you have to pay on certain things escalate, it is going to cost taxpayers money. That is what is happening in the state.
“We have bad credit which is costing us more to borrow money and the interest that we pay on that money that we borrowed is costing taxpayers more every day not to mention the late fees we have to pay for certain mandatory bills to vendors that we are not paying. We have to pay interest to certain organizations,” he said.
“The rich people are the ones who are loaning the money, people close to Rauner. They are charging a higher rate for the bonds,” said Ford. “We pay more for them to borrow money.”
When asked what can be done to stop this fiscal hemorrhaging, Ford said, “We have to figure out ways to bring more money into the state from big businesses that are not paying their fair share of taxes to the state.
On “all of the interest rates from the years of unpaid bills, we pay a rate of about 12 percent and that cost taxpayers $1 billion in interest. That’s a lot of money,” Ford said. “We also have a problem with the pension payment and that is costing money.” He said the state owes about $130 billion for pension payments.
“The governor wants to bankrupt the pensions and destroy the unions because then no one would be fighting for the pensions,” Ford said. “I think that is his goal because he believes that pensions and the unions cost taxpayers too much money.
“He is a union buster. He would not deny it. He doesn’t believe unions serve a purpose, and he treats taxpayer’s dollars and working class individual’s money without any return. He wants to drive down wages for every day working families,” said Ford.
“It’s no doubt that Democrats are on the right side of the fence when we protect working families and their ability to sue employees or when we want to protect funding for social services or raise the eligibility level for child care and not reduce it to what the governor believes it should be.”