With the election over and a new governor decided, McHenry County’s state legislators said they are ready to go to Springfield and get us out of the fiscal fix we’re in.
But with a $13 billion budget deficit and $80 billion in unfunded pension liability, they hope that the General Assembly is up to the task.
State Rep. Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, said he would have liked to have seen voters put more new, and Republican, faces in the General Assembly, as well as elect a Republican governor.
“I can’t imagine Illinois voters approving four more years of the same spending powers and the same spending priorities that have bankrupted our state,” Tryon said. “I think the change that people are going to get now is a tax increase.”
If Illinois voters are concerned about Springfield’s budgetary blunders, they did not indicate their displeasure Tuesday like voters in many other states.
Voters in 13 other states flipped one or both houses from Democratic to Republican control. Minnesota has a GOP-controlled Senate for the first time ever. Republicans control both houses in Alabama and North Carolina for the first time since the Reconstruction era, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Gov. Pat Quinn’s narrow victory also is an exception to Tuesday’s trends. The Democratic Party lost seven governor’s mansions – six to Republicans and one to an independent.
Illinois voters only granted the GOP six more seats in the House and two in the Senate. Put another way, Illinois accounts for about 1 percent of the 675 seats that the Republicans picked up in all 50 states Tuesday.
But state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, said the gains could be enough to encourage bipartisanship and compromise to get meaningful spending cuts made. The Democratic Party lost its Senate supermajority, and the GOP closed its House minority to 10 seats.
Franks said he was worried that the Republican Party was so “disenfranchised” in the present General Assembly that they would be reticent to come to the table in the new one.
“We need their ideas, we need their input, we need their help,” Franks said. “If there ever has been a time, now is the time to put aside partisanship and work together for the good of the people.”
Both Tryon and Franks agreed that too much power was vested among five people: The governor, Senate president, House speaker, and the minority leaders of both parties.
But while Tryon said House Speaker Michael Madigan would be even more powerful with the departure of several independent-minded Democrats, Franks said Madigan would have to work better with Republicans, given the reduction in his majority.
“I think he’s going to have to be more conciliatory,” Franks said.
Madigan likely will be elected as the speaker of the new General Assembly. Franks, criticized by his election opponent and pundits for backing Madigan, said he “hasn’t committed” to whom he will vote for in January.
Both Tryon and Franks said McHenry County’s three House representatives and two senators would vote against the 33 percent income tax hike championed by Quinn since before his campaign.
“I can’t imaging the Democratic Party not pushing for a tax increase,” Tryon said. “Quinn is going to do what he said he was going to do.”
While Tryon expected the tax increase to come during the fall veto session starting Nov. 16, Franks said he expected it in January, just prior to the new General Assembly being seated. He said he didn’t think it would be successful.
“They’re asking for more money, but to do it without cuts and while keeping the same problems? Nobody in their right mind would vote for that, so I don’t think [Quinn] will get it passed,” Franks said.