Verschoore Measure Demands Greater Fiscal Responsibility,

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

“Pay the bills first” is the directive from state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers after advancing a proposal on Thursday calling on the state to hold fast to new spending restraints even if state coffers take in more revenue in the coming year than expected.

“If we’re going to get our state back on solid fiscal ground we have to be more disciplined,” Verschoore said. “Paying down the massive backlog of unpaid bills is an important part of getting our financial affairs in order. We can’t truly solve our budget challenges until we do that.”

In early March, Verschoore and the full House unanimously approved a bipartisan measure stating the state’s available revenues for all state programs, including senior services, public education, required pension payments to teachers and university employees and other state programs for the fiscal year beginning July 1, at just over $33 billion.

That amount, as first determined by the House Revenue and Finance Committee, is about $760 million less than the governor’s budget office estimates the state will have in its general revenue fund, and about $1.7 billion less than the state’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA)’s projections. It does not include funding in the state’s capital fund for infrastructure improvements

On Thursday, the Revenue and Finance Committee adopted a measure backed by Verschoore taking the call for fiscal responsibility further. Under House Resolution 158, if the state brings in more than the $33 billion expected for Fiscal Year 2012, then any additional revenue must be used to pay down Illinois’ massive backlog of unpaid bills.

“The House set forth a conservative estimate of expected revenues because we don’t want to find ourselves in a position where we are spending more than we take in,” Verschoore said. “We have passed significant budget reforms and spending restraints and we must follow them if we are going to return Illinois to prosperity. No one should be under the impression that if we have more money to spend we’re just going to spend it away. We need to pay the bills.”

House Resolution 158 now moves to the full House for further consideration.