There are records you want to break, and those you don't. Tomorrow will bring the longest overtime session in the modern-day history of the state. The previous record was set a whopping 3 years ago. Read into that what you will.
Truth be told, it is essentially anybody's guess as to whether or not we will even have a budget deal by the end of this month. I had a discussion last night about the irony of what has to transpire to make a budget deal a reality.
Essentially our state government, which has understandably been accused of an inability to get things done, would have to reach consensus on most, if not all, of the following major issues in the next week:
Electric rate relief - essentially doneAn interesting question if a deal can't be reached, then what? A one-month budget seems highly unlikely, leaving wide open the 's' word.
Property tax relief - who the heck knows after yesterday's aldermanic press conference. It will be interesting to see their reaction if the end result is no extension of the 7% bill.
Mass transit funding - likely through a .25 regional sales tax, with enabling legislation to allow Chicago to levy a transfer tax.
Education funding - is a 1% income tax hike in the works to do this? I'm not sure that the votes are there for it.
Gaming expansion - there are probably Republican votes for this if it's to fund capital projects, but these bills tend to die under their own weight, so it's still 50/50
Health care expansion - this is the make-or-break issue for the Governor, but his 'scaled back' plan is still a billion dollar plus program with a lot of skeptics. An interesting question is if the House and Senate can reach agreement on all of the issues but the last one, does that get the job done?
Ethics - Incredibly, the administration is still ducking this one. Passing HB1, which would end 'pay-to-play' politics, passed the House unanimously, and has 45 Senate sponsors, should be a no-brainer. Instead, the Governor, who promised to 'rock the system' years ago, and then didn't lift a finger to pass anything, still says that he doesn't want to pass this bill because 'it doesn't do enough'. And he said it with a straight face.
I think that it would be a travesty if there was to be a shutdown. It's wrong to have state employees, their families, and the people of our state, suffer because of political gamesmanship and posturing over issues that should have been dealt with in the Spring.
At a time when the public deserves to have their confidence in state government restored, a shutdown would do just the opposite. It would tarnish the process, hurt the Democratic party, and set the stage for nothing but more problems in the years ahead.
Buckle up, there's a lot of work to do ahead.