Last week, Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his first annual budget address. I believe we can all agree that it’s not perfect, but it illustrates the financial instability our State faces. As a state, we need to live within our means as we work to pass a bi-partisan budget that will trend toward a much more stable spending environment.
The budget for fiscal year 2016 (FY16) presented by the Governor contains many challenges to traditional spending patterns in Springfield. The Governor imposed serious cuts on a wide variety of expenditures, especially in areas covered by General Revenue Fund spending ($31.5 billion). The Governor says Illinois taxation and spending has, for too long, been on autopilot and that he was elected to pull the State’s government out of a death spiral.
The State’s budgetary challenges are no secret, but under Gov. Rauner, these challenges are actually being acknowledged. For the first time in a decade, the Governor and the General Assembly are starting the budgetary process grounded in the reality of matching revenues with expenditures while paying our required obligations. He has set a revenue estimate of $32 billion with a clear directive to make that number work.
The Governor’s introduced FY16 budget is sobering, but it is built on several core priorities: public safety, education and paying our bills. The General Assembly is beginning to review this budget and its impact on Illinoisans and will soon be making recommendations as to our shared priorities. We face hard times ahead of us, but in the end, we must do what it takes to turn Illinois around.
It was a busy week in Springfield. Along with a full schedule of committee meetings and General Assembly sessions, we were able to pass a bill that I sponsored, Scott’s Law Day HB246. This bill designates December 23 of every year as a day to honor our public safety workers and to remind drivers throughout the State to slow down and watch for emergency vehicles parked alongside the road. Scott’s Law was originally enacted in 2002 after Lt. Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department was struck and killed on December 23, 2000 along the Dan Ryan Expressway when a motorist recklessly drove through an accident scene at which Lt. Gillen was assisting. This legislation commemorates the date to remember the sacrifice of Lt. Scott Gillen and all public safety workers. Let’s not endanger the individuals who dedicate their lives to protecting us.
I was also pleased to see a strong show of support by our local Farm Bureau members this past Wednesday at the Illinois Farm Bureau event. I am working to make agriculture and agribusiness a legislative priority in Springfield, and I’m thankful that individuals from our region take the time away from their businesses and farms to lobby for an industry that is at the heart of our region’s economy.
In conclusion, I wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate the Dakota High School wrestling team. They accomplished a remarkable feat by returning home with six state titles in Class 1A, the most ever won by the program in one season. Congratulations to the coaching staff and wrestlers for their hard work and determination that led to six State Champions. Those Champions are Carver James, J.J. Wolfe, Alec Henze, Printice Walls, Nathan Olsen, and Greg Krulas. In the words of Harry S. Truman, “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” Our Dakota wrestling team exemplifies that American courage, imagination and unbeatable determination. Way to go, team.