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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Naperville’s Pulse in Springfield – In budgeting, the process really does matter


UPDATED with Letter to the Editor

Another scheduled legislative adjournment date has come and gone and for the third year in a row the House, under Speaker Madigan’s dubious leadership, has left Springfield without passing a responsible, balanced state budget. That’s completely irresponsible and unacceptable.

In recent weeks we’ve seen a lot of finger pointing coming from the Speaker’s side of the aisle, but the facts speak for themselves: one party, Speaker Madigan’s party, has had absolute control of state government for twelve years.  During that time Democrats have passed unbalanced budget after unbalanced budget. They’ve increased spending, raised taxes and fees, raided pensions and used countless gimmicks to try to hide the reality that revenues have not matched expenditures for more than 15 years.  Now, they’re blocking all of our attempts to clean up the mess they created.

We need a full-year, balanced budget that puts families and taxpayers first. We need a budget that adjusts spending to make sure it doesn’t exceed our revenues. We need meaningful reforms that will help create jobs and restore financial stability.  And we now have one month left before the end of the fiscal year to get the job done.

—State Representative Grant Wehrli, 41st District, June 1, 2017

Post received May 25, 2017, for June Issue / There’s a popular saying that the law-making process is a lot like the sausage-making process – something you really don’t want to see.  I think that goes a long way to explaining why many times the legislation we end up with is not good for taxpayers.  The process IS relevant to achieving a good outcome. That’s especially true in budgeting. As a former Naperville City Councilmember I can’t help comparing the open, organized budgeting process we put in place for the city to the games and chaos Speaker Madigan presides over each spring in the Illinois House.

Here in Naperville, the City Council adopts a five-year budget forecast. The budgeting process starts a full ten months before the current plan expires, and includes multiple public hearings and full vetting of each department head’s budget request. Revenue is closely monitored throughout the process and spending is adjusted accordingly to ensure the city can live within its means. It is a transparent and consistent process that yields balanced budgets that meet our community’s needs.

In Springfield, however, the budgeting process each year in the House runs entirely on the whim of the Speaker. In other words, there really is no process, and no real opportunity for the public to review, or have input in the budgets they will be paying for. Negotiations are sporadic and conducted behind closed doors. Constitutional requirements are cast aside when they’re not convenient; and working days are cancelled by the Speaker until we find ourselves in the final days of the spring session being told that it’s critical we pass whatever irresponsible, emergency spending plan he puts before us.

In budgeting, the process is important. If we had a consistent, transparent budget process in the General Assembly that adheres to our Constitutional requirement to pass a balanced budget, Speaker Madigan and his enablers would not have been able to dig us into the financial hole we’re in.  Putting in place a consistent and transparent budget process is the only way we’re going to get out of the hole once and for all.

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Grant Wehrli
Grant Wehrli
Grant Wehrli is a lifelong Naperville Resident and former Representative in the Illinois House of Representatives and Naperville City Councilman.