Illinois House approves budget framework: Tough choices to follow

(From Tom Cross, House Republican Leader and State Representative, 84thDistrict)

The Illinois House today (3/29/12) adopted a spending reduction and budget repair blueprint for the upcoming year – taking a major step toward ending the Springfield spending-spree that majority Democrats have presided over for a full decade.

The key fact is this – we are fundamentally altering the trajectory of state government.  We will start by honoring our promise to spend less than last year, less than Governor Pat Quinn proposed to spend in his recent budget address, and – for the first time in years – set our state budget back on the path to stability, strength, and balance.

The path forward is set, but let us be clear – the journey to our destination will be a difficult one as we grapple with the challenge of unraveling a budget crisis years in the making.

Click the image to watch Leader Cross’ remarks

By staying involved and driving the discussion, House Republicans have set in place a reversal of past budget practices which have failed to base spending on actual revenue.  Without us leading the charge for reform and holding the Democrats feet to the fire, there is little doubt the majority party, if left to their own devices, would spend every penny allowed under the artificially high spending “cap” they previously set for this year – which would spend $5 billion more than our estimated revenues.

Now that a spending number has been agreed to, the House Appropriations Committees have been charged with going through the budget line-by-line and cutting a total of more than $4 billion.   With Republicans at the table, we will have a say in where the cuts occur – but it will not be easy.   The cuts must be fair and all sectors of our budget will share in the pain.

Cuts are just one part of the equation, however.  We also need real reforms to Medicaid and pensions to fix our budget crisis – not gimmicks.And as we tighten our own belt in state spending, we must also do everything we can to restore Illinois’ competitiveness in attracting and retaining new jobs for Illinois families.

The actions we took today are a significant step – but there remains much important work to be done. The days of spending beyond our means and mortgaging our future on the backs of our children and grandchildren must end now.

On the road to lower taxes and fiscal stability, House Republicans will continue to drive down spending and push for real spending reforms. This remains our mission and commitment to you.

Tom Cross

House Republican Leader

State Representative, 84thDistrict