Readers here are used to my frequent criticism of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has ruled the chamber with an iron fist for decades. This month I actually want to give the Speaker credit for something he does better than anyone else in Springfield – wasting time.

As you know, the General Assembly is scheduled to be in session each winter/spring from January through the end of May. That gives us five months in which to get all of our work done, including our most important job, passing a state budget and detailed spending plan for the next fiscal year which begins on July 1. It’s not a lot of time, but it is enough if we are actually at the Capitol working on the critical problems we need to solve. One of the biggest problems we have, however, is that we’re not at the Capitol working!

This year, the Illinois House was only scheduled to be in session a handful of days in January and February, and Speaker Madigan canceled four of those days. The House was in session a total of four days in March and then we had four entire weeks without a single session day. As I write this, we have less than one week left in our spring session and the Speaker just canceled two more session days. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoy spending more time at home here in the district, but what about our pension crisis? What about the budget?

On the days that we have been in session, many have been very short days on the House floor, and we had time taken out for guest addresses by Consulate Representatives from six different countries. Again, that’s nice, but what about the exodus of families and employers from our state? What about the budget?

Speaker Madigan is a master of wasting time.

So why does he do this year after year? Because it creates a crisis atmosphere in the final weeks of session which provides him more leverage to get what he wants, such as last year’s income tax increase.

As I write this we have less than a week left in our spring session, and we have not yet seen a detailed budget proposal for our consideration. It is my sincere hope that by the time you read this we will have passed a new, full-year balanced budget that does not further burden working families or job creators. Rest assured I will continue to oppose any attempt to increase taxes.

UPDATE / On Mon., June 4, 2018, a headline from the Illinois Governor’s Office read, “With no new taxes, Gov. Rauner signed FY19 budget into law.”

From his Chicago office, “Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed into law a $38.5 billion bipartisan compromise budget that holds the line on taxes, increases funding for education, curbs spending, and creates a new adoption tax credit that will make it less costly for Illinois parents to adopt children,” according to the news release.

Later in the day, State Rep. Grant Wehrli added, “With collaborative work, we put down our differences for what’s best for the state and the people in Illinois. It’s a first step, not the solution. But it gets us on sound footing for the future and reforms that will grow our economy instead of just asking for more money.”

Coffee & Conversation / 8-9:30AM Fri., June 8

To talk with Rep. Wehrli directly about what’s happening in Springfield, plan to meet him when he hosts “Coffee and Conversation” with State Senator Mike Connelly from 8 to 9:30AM Fri., June 8, at Dunkin’ Donuts, located at 702 S. Washington Street.  Wehrli and Connelly seek local input on community interests and legislative matters important to their constituents.