WHY THESE ILLINOIS HOUSE DEMOCRATS VOTED AGAINST MADIGAN’S BUDGET BILL
During a rancorous vote Wednesday night, Illinois House Democrats passed Speaker Michael Madigan’s $7.2 billion out-of-balance budget plan.
The 63-53-1 vote came amid vehement protest from Republicans, who were irate about both the imbalance of Senate Bill 2048 and having seen the 500-page document less than two hours before it was called for a vote.
But not every Democratic member sided with their leader. Seven representatives — Kelly Cassidy, Scott Drury, Ken Dunkin, Jack Franks, Stephanie Kifowit, Elaine Nekritz and Carol Sente — voted against the bill. State Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, voted present. By breaking rank with their caucus, they signaled that the House would not be able to override a veto by Gov. Bruce Rauner should the bill pass the Senate and reach his desk. (It takes 71 votes in the House to override a veto and there are exactly 71 Democrats.)
Here’s what some of them had to say about their votes:
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago
“While the bill included appropriations for many things I strongly support, it once again does not have the funding to support those spending plans, spending roughly $7 billion more than projected revenues. Without allocating sufficient revenue, this bill was an exercise in futility.
My vote was not a vote against social services, organized labor or essential programs, things I have forcefully advocated on behalf of the entire time I’ve been in the General Assembly – it was a vote against doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I can’t in good conscience pretend a yes vote today would have funded the things I come here to fight for knowing it will be vetoed, and knowing that the numbers simply do not add up.
The shortfall is too big to just cut our way out of. Without additional revenue, the cuts would be disastrous to higher education, human services, public safety and every aspect of State government the public depends on.
We need revenue to support the spending priorities we set. And we need it now, not after another round of gamesmanship.”
State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo
Franks, who never has been afraid to break ranks with his party’s leader, said what’s happening in Springfield isn’t public policy but purely political.
“I haven’t voted for a budget in well over a decade because they haven’t been balanced and this one wasn’t even close,” Franks said. “If we were a private company, we would be seized by the government. That’s how reckless we are.”
But Franks acknowledged both sides are at fault. He said his colleagues on the other side of aisle haven’t been negotiating in good faith either, citing as an example their willingness to discuss new revenue but not agreeing to close tax loopholes for big corporations.
While Franks said the bill is terrible public policy, he admitted it was a smart political move by Madigan.
“Politically it’s a smart move because it makes Rauner have to determine whether he wants to do line-item vetoes or veto the whole thing,” said Franks, adding that you never can underestimate the speaker’s political prowess.
State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Aurora
“The decision (to vote against) really stems on the desire to properly fund our nonprofits and universities and schools, and the bottom line is a budget entails revenue and spending and I’ve expressed my views to the speaker that we have a complete, responsible budget to vote on,” she said. “We have to have the ability to properly fund these important programs and that’s not what materialized yesterday when we increased our budget deficit by $7 billion.”
State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook
“I feel like we have the time to actually come up with a real solution and I’d really like to see that happen.”
Nekritz also said she agrees with state Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, that progress has been made in every discussion among the bipartisan working groups.
“Amazing things can happen when we put our heads together.”
This post will be updated as messages to other Democrats who voted against the bill are returned.