The self-imposed deadline set for passing a budget came and went last week without so much as a draft of the FY24 budget being released to legislators. Unfortunately, due to Democrats having a supermajority in the Illinois General Assembly, Republican legislators have been cut out of budget discussions entirely. As usual, this nearly $50 billion dollar budget has been drafted entirely behind closed doors and will inevitably be rushed through both chambers without giving legislators enough time to read the thousands of pages comprising the document.
We were promised change following the end of the Madigan era and were told that new leadership in the House and Senate would secure the ethical changes we so desperately need. This was, of course, yet another empty promise made to the taxpayers of Illinois who put their faith in us to act ethically.
While this budget process is upsetting, it is sadly only one example of a far larger problem. Democrat legislators have completely disregarded the voices and ideas of Republicans. Numerous requests have been made by Republicans to give us a seat at the table when discussing legislation. These offers seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Only hearing one side of the story or one view on an issue completely impedes the creation of innovative ideas by forcing our legislators into an echo chamber of similarly-minded individuals spouting off identical partisan rhetoric.
Regardless of which party is in power, the way our legislature is being run is out of control. Democracy requires balance in order to operate effectively. Our state has lost any semblance of balance, which is probably why we are currently facing so many issues. From job loss, to record out-migration, to public safety and ethics reform, our state is in crisis. Clearly, the ideas being set forth by the majority party are not working or we would actually see businesses growing and families staying in Illinois.
If Democrats want to fix the issues our state is facing, it’s time to bring Republicans back to the table. We can offer lived experiences as business owners, parents, educators, and more that will bring a fresh perspective to the complex problems we face. It’s time to end the harsh Republican and Democratic divide and remember that we are all Illinoisans, looking to make our state the best it can be. Let’s focus on choosing solutions, not sides.