SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton released the following statement following Senate passage of SB 16 (Education Funding Reform):

“I applaud Senator Andy Manar for effectively advancing the fundamental issue of equity for our schools. While there have been many hurdles along the way, those challenges have not stopped his effort to find a more fair funding system for all of Illinois’ students.

Because of his leadership, the majority of senators are willing to reject our school funding status quo in favor of a system that appropriately accounts for student needs across the state.

I will continue to work with Senator Manar until lawmakers in both chambers agree to change the funding formula to drive resources to the students that need it most.”

 

SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Senate President John Cullerton issued the following statement regarding Governor Pat Quinn’s FY15 budget plan:

“Governor Quinn’s budget plan outlines the steps that I believe we must take in order to maintain the progress made in recent years.

Since we passed the income tax increase in 2011, we have paid down $3 billion in old bills and fully funded our ballooning pension payments without borrowing. We saved billions with responsible budget cuts and demonstrated that we can be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

In order to stay on this path of fiscal stability, we have to maintain the same level of revenue. Voting to maintain our current tax rate is a responsible action that keeps Illinois’ income taxes among the lowest in the nation. It will allow us to honor our obligations, preserve education funding and secure our financial future for generations to come.

Equally important to that principle is identifying ways to provide targeted tax relief for the people of Illinois. Therefore I intend to support the Governor’s plan to provide property tax relief to homeowners. I look forward to advancing this proposal and others designed to provide relief and economic opportunity for middle-class and working families.

In recent years, Democrats have had to act alone in balancing the budget. However, there is also a great record of accomplishment on fiscal matters when Republicans have participated.

Billions in draconian budget cuts to vital programs that serve every district of this state are unacceptable to me. If they are unacceptable to Republicans, I again invite them engage in the budget process with constructive and balanced solutions to secure Illinois’ financial future.

Our state continues to face challenges, but I’m optimistic that we can and will address them because we have a record of progress when we work together.”

Facing $3 billion budget hole, Cullerton calls for bipartisan solution

CHICAGO - Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton today warned that the state faces a nearly $3 billion budget hole that could decimate school funding, send college tuition soaring and undo much of the financial progress that has occurred in recent years.

“I’m here to jumpstart a discussion on how we bridge a $3 billion gap. I’m here to urge my Republican counterparts to join the discussion so we can produce a bipartisan solution,” Cullerton (D-Chicago) told reporters at a news conference.

By law, the state’s income tax rates drop on Jan. 1, 2015 - halfway through the upcoming budget year. That $1.6 billion revenue decline, combined with increased costs in required programs and services, produces a $2.9 billion shortfall that could force deep cuts elsewhere in the budget.

Those cuts could amount to a 27 percent across-the-board cut to the few parts of the state budget that aren’t set by law, court order or legally binding contract. Such cuts would further crowd classrooms across the state as buildings close and teachers lose their jobs. CPS alone would lose $300 million under such a scenario and have to layoff 3,600 teachers to fill the void.

It could also slash state support of colleges and universities by more than $500 million, resulting in 45,000 students losing access to financial aid while universities would likely have to implement double-digit tuition increases.

Cullerton’s comments previewed a budget hearing set for Wednesday at the Capitol. At the hearing state economic officials and university experts are scheduled to testify about the state’s finances. Senators on both sides of the aisle are encouraged to participate in this budget hearing.

Senate President Cullerton noted that over the past few years, Republicans and Democrats have been able to work together to resolve major issues ranging from Medicaid cuts to pension reform.

“We proven we can accomplish great things when we work together. That’s why I’m inviting anyone interested in leading this state to be a part of a bipartisan solution for this $3 billion problem,” he said.