GENEVA About 75 people packed the meeting room at the Geneva Park District headquarters June 12 for an emergency town hall meeting called by state Rep. Steve Andersson, R-Geneva.
For more than an hour, Andersson laid out the fiscal crisis caused by the lack of a state budget as Illinois heads into a third year without an annual spending plan.
The state faces $14.3 billion in unpaid bills that are about three years old, he said.
Andersson said he disagrees with those who say no budget is better than a bad budget.
“Our cash flow would be so limited, that we may default on our debt,” Andersson said. “Our bonds won’t get paid. Our state employees would not get paid."
Instead, Andersson supports various plans to create a sustainable budget, one that is “a real budget, not a fake budget, not a feel-good budget.”
Raising the personal income tax rate to 4.95 percent and the corporate tax rate to 7 percent, along with some other taxes, would help shore up the state’s need for revenue to pay its bills, its pensions and support its programs, Andersson said.
“I do not want to raise taxes, but I was hired by you to govern,” Andersson said. "If we do not do something, we will fail as a state in a year.”
But the issue, as he sees it, is getting Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner to compromise.
One avenue to forcing a compromise is what Andersson called a “nuclear option.”
And that is to ask his constituents to call Madigan's and Rauner's offices and tell them not to support another stopgap budget to fund K-12 education. Last year's stopgap six-month budget kept schools open, but did not solve the state's overall budget impasse.
The idea is to create the "ultimate pressure," using the possibility of the state’s schools not opening or not being able to stay open, Andersson said.
“Quite frankly, the hostages have been social services,” Andersson said, referring to state funds not coming to community-based agencies that serve the poor, the elderly, those with developmental disabilities and those with mental illness.
“They [social services] don’t touch everybody, but schools do,” Andersson said.
If schools don't open or can only afford to stay open to Thanksgiving, the pressure will finally get both sides to the table, he said.
“I don’t like to say that I am threatening your schools,” Andersson said. “I apologize for that. But that is the only way to get [them] to the table.”