State senators tout 'Taxpayer Bargain' budget plan
State Sens. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) and Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) have unveiled a Taxpayer Bargain budget plan they say calls for spending reductions, protections for elementary and secondary education, pension reform, restructuring and legislative accountability.
"There is spending reduction of 10 percent at state agencies, universities will be asked to reduce spending by 5 percent of their budgets, and retailers will see a reduction in the discount rate for sales tax collection from 1.75 percent to 1 percent,” McCarter said. “However, funding for elementary and secondary education will be protected, as will Medicaid services for the most vulnerable and scheduled pension payments.”
Other plans in the budget include ending legislator pensions, reforming Medicaid to target fraud and abuse, restructuring state government agencies, reforming worker’s compensation, and providing a new funding formula for schools that shifts education funding from property taxes to state government.
The senators said the budget is meant to hold legislators accountable for their spending.
“We are putting forth a bargain for the taxpayers that will not punish them for what legislators in the past have done but rather rewards them with a balanced budget that provides real spending reductions, modernizes Illinois’ public pension systems, improves the way Illinois’ government does business, and creates an environment for job creation,” McCarter said. “This plan puts a real cap on spending backed up with accountability. If that is not done, legislators lose their pay. This Taxpayer Bargain does this with no new taxes and no tax increase. This Taxpayer Bargain budget directs all new revenue toward education, roads and bridges, pension legacy costs, and paying off old bills.”
McConchie echoed McCarter’s sentiments, stating the budget plan requires sacrifice.
“This lays out in very specific terms a way in which we can live within the revenues we currently have,” he said. “Is it difficult? Absolutely. But this is something that is possible to do.”
The plan does come with a price tag, though.
“We borrow $7 billion dollars to pay off old bills, and we reform the Prompt Pay Act,” McCarter said, “What we do is we tie a real spending cap on the borrowing to Fiscal Year '18 revenue. If that cap is blown, and future legislators spend above that, they lose their pay. If we are going to live within in our means, someone has to pay the price.”
The plan had input from Democratic and Republican members of the Senate and House, as well as Gov. Bruce Rauner, McCarter said.
“We’re asking the governor to do his part as well," he said. "I think that is why they call him governor: because he has to govern. There are many of his ideas in this package, and so we have taken that into consideration. If you look at modernizing the pensions, many of those ideas are his. This bill originated from the opinions and input from legislators: some from our House, some from our party and some from the Democratic Party.”
The Taxpayer Bargain budget contains 17 legislative pieces in various stages of the legislative process.