Senate Week In Review
Thursday, February 10, 2011
With Gov. Pat Quinn’s annual budget address scheduled for Feb. 16, Republican lawmakers are looking forward to receiving more detail on the Governor’s fiscal proposal. State Sen. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) said GOP legislators are particularly interested to see if the Governor will advance the budget cuts and reforms Illinois needs to reduce the state’s massive deficit.
Also this week, Senate lawmakers were busy introducing bills to meet a Feb. 10 deadline and attending Senate committees. The Senate wrapped up the week by bidding farewell to a long-time colleague.
Members of a Senate budget committee were frustrated Feb. 8 by the lack of information on Quinn’s upcoming budget and the failure of the Governor's chief budget officer to appear before the committee to answer questions. With the budget address fast approaching, little has been revealed about the Governor’s plans. Committee members also criticized representatives from Quinn’s offic
Sen. Sandack explained that even with the Democrat’s recent 67 percent income tax increase, the state must make serious cuts to spending in order to address the budget deficit. Despite a supposed spending "cap" included in the tax hike passed last month, if spending isn’t reduced Illinoisans will likely face a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall in five years. Senate Republicans explained that the spending limits adopted by the Governor and his fellow Democrats are so generous that they will not actually reduce or control spending.
Senators are anxious to see if Quinn will adhere to the requirements of "budgeting for results" legislation recently approved in the General Assembly that requires the budget message to outline a spending plan based only on funds actually available to the state. In the past, Governors have often built their proposed budgets using taxes or other revenues that they were asking for, but which had not passed. This allowed Governors to submit overly generous budgets and then blame legislators for "cutting" the budget when those tax hikes or revenue increases did not materialize.
Senate lawmakers also hustled to file bills by the Feb. 10 deadline. GOP lawmakers are once again pushing legislation to make additional Medicaid, pension and ethics reforms. Senate Republicans are also advancing changes to the state’s Meritorious Good Time prison program, measures to add additional oversight to personnel changes at state agencies, and legislation that would eliminate the vast number of state task forces and commissions, while making it more difficult to create many of these bogus entities.
Also this week, retiring Sen. Brad Burzynski (R-Rochelle) was recognized by his Senate colleagues with a resolution on the Senate floor. Burzynski served as a State Senator since 1993, and was a member of the House of Representatives from 1990 to 1993. The 35th District Senator is a respected advocate for education, well known for his efforts to increase access to higher education, improve the quality of education in Illinois schools, and has served as a powerful voice for the state’s school districts and public universities.
Finally, the Illinois Senate acknowledged the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birth. A Senate resolution was introduced that honored Reagan’s youth in Illinois, his career in motion pictures, his military service, and his service as the Governor of California from 1967 to 1975. In particular, lawmakers praised his presidential legacy of leadership, optimism and prosperity.
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