No end in sight for state’s budget impasse

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

AURORA — Illinois’ budget impasse could have long-lasting consequences on its most vulnerable residents as a number of government vendors haven’t been paid for their services since the fiscal year began on July 1.

Sen. Linda Holmes has had conversations with parents who need help from the state caring for their mentally disabled child and parents who need to put their children in day care — but there is no assistance to help them. “The only thing moving are court-ordered mandates for human services,” Holmes explained.

Vouchers were issued for community bases services only after a U.S. District Judge ordered it after attorneys for the people with disabilities asked the judge to hold state officials in contempt of court.

As a legislature, Sen. Linda Holmes said it’s frustrating to take no action on the state’s budget, especially when she has people suffering in her districts. “I sincerely care about what I do. I really care about the people of my district.” Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

“These are issues that literally, keep me awake at night. I have never worried this much about my budget. This is a huge crisis and unfortunately, I don’t see an end to it,” she said.

Holmes spoke to supporters Oct. 1 at a fundraiser at Hopvine in Aurora, which consisted mostly of union members and organized labor supporters.

With the budget at an impasse and nothing moving, Holmes understands municipalities and schools in her district are kept wondering what is going on, and more importantly, when is it going to change?

“We don’t know what is going to happen — and I hate telling you that because typically, in my job, it’s about fostering an ability to work together — to work across the aisle and come up with solutions that work for everybody. Unfortunately, we’re seeing things at the biggest standstill I’ve ever seen in my entire life. And it’s very discouraging,” she explained.

Legislatures are not expected back to Springfield until Oct. 20 — but when she returns, Holmes promises to continue to be an outspoken advocate.

Effects of the current budget crisis:

  • State employees are paying for medical care out-of-pocket.
  • Fewer parents can send their children to day care.
  • Low-income families have lost their energy assistance.
  • More than 100 state workers could soon be laid off.

With a budget still not passed, Springfield is a mess

Sen. Linda Holmes

Sen. Linda Holmes was disappointed with the creation of SB 1229, known as the AFSCME bill, which forfeits the right for members to strike, and forbids a lockout of workers by the governor. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

NAPERVILLE — Compared with the federal government, Sen. Linda Holmes used to think Springfield had its head on its shoulders. But now, with an impasse on the state budget and Illinois heading for a possible shutdown, Holmes feels Springfield has become as equally dysfunctional as Washington.

During the Aug. 28 Naperville Township Democratic Organization’s (NTDO) meeting in Naperville, Holmes fielded questions from members and guests, trying to keep everyone abreast of what is going on in Springfield.

With 82 percent of the budget passed, all that’s left if 18 percent, and that 18 percent is really, really important.

“What needs to be voted on are bills for social services, plans to take care of our veterans and our seniors, along with funding for autism — issues that affect our communities. The situation is simply horrendous,” Holmes explained.

Aug. 27, attorneys for Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration and comptroller Leslie Munger complied with U.S. District Judge Sharon Coleman’s order, which was issued after attorneys for the people with disabilities asked her to hold state officials in contempt of court.

“As of Aug. 28, the Department of Human Services has processed all vouchers for community-based services . . . that would have been provided in July and August 2015, on the same schedule as in previous years,” the lawyers for the state said, and “as of Aug. 28, the comptroller has paid all of the vouchers.”

As the Senate Labor Committee Vice-Chair, Holmes is outraged about SB 1229, also known as the AFSCME bill, which states if an impasse is reached in negotiations, instead of striking, or the governor being able to lock out workers, it will go to binding arbitration.

“When I first heard about this bill, I didn’t get it. AFSCME wanted this bill passed, but why would you want to give up the most powerful tool in your toolbox, which is the ability to strike in order to achieve a fair negotiation?” she questioned.

You only have to look to what Rauner said on the campaign trail, which was cite what President Ronald Reagan did in the 80’s with the striking air traffic controllers — he fired them all.

“This is what he wants — to force AFSCME to strike, so he can fire them, and start all over,” Holmes said.