Downstate GOP lawmakers want House to get back to work

With the Illinois House of Representatives in the midst of a month-long break, a group of Downstate GOP lawmakers want the House to return to session to work on a compromise to end the nine-month long budget impasse.
State Representatives Bill Mitchell, C.D. Davidsmeyer, John Cavaletto, David Reis and Avery Bourne held a press conference in Decatur Wednesday to urge Democrat leaders to call the General Assembly back into session.
“The sad fact is Illinois is broke. Our colleges, students and human services are suffering because of the Chicago politicians’ refusal to compromise on desperately-needed economic and spending reforms. We are nine months into Fiscal Year 2016 without a budget and the House has only been in session nine days this entire year. What are we doing? Speaker Madigan needs to end this month-long break and get back to work,” said Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth)
Illinois House Republicans, furious about the lack of a state budget and seemingly empty session calendar thus far this year, challenged House Democrat leadership to not adjourn as scheduled for the month of March. At the conclusion of the House session on March 3, Republicans made a motion to bring the legislature back the following day. Despite being completely in line with the House Rules, the motion was ruled out of order, with Democrat leadership scurrying quickly from the chamber to prevent debate on the issue. House Democrats cleared out of the chamber despite the requests from Republicans to keep working.
“The Speaker’s scheduled month-long ‘spring break’ amounts to a complete dereliction of duty, especially while kids wait for needed college funding and seniors go without needed help. I continue to ask the Speaker to find the will to come together to compromise for the future of all Illinoisans,” said Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville)
“Our universities and community colleges are paying a steep price for the Speaker’s blatant disregard of his constitutional duties. EIU, WIU and SIU are all laying off employees, cutting back on course offerings, and many students are facing a grim future without financial aid. We filed legislation in January to fund higher education and MAP grants. Unlike the Democrats’ sham spending bills, our plan actually has a funding source. Let’s go back to Springfield, get back to work and pass a real plan to fund higher education,” said Rep. David Reis (R-Willow Hill)
“Our people are hurting. Unemployment is high and good-paying jobs have disappeared. Working families can’t afford to send their kids to college. Instead of working together to address these problems, Speaker Madigan and his Chicago allies decided to take a nice long vacation. We need a budget that works for our families, communities and state. Enough delays, enough stalling, enough political games. Let’s get this done,” said Rep. John Cavaletto (R-Salem).
“I and my colleagues are here ready to work.  Unfortunately Speaker Madigan is not.  It is time to stop playing political games with the future of Illinois and pass a balanced bipartisan budget,” said Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Raymond).

The Downstate GOP lawmakers are sending a letter to Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) requesting that he and Senate President John J. Cullerton (D-Chicago) call the General Assembly back into special and/or continuous session to deal with the ongoing budget crisis. Article IV, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution states that special sessions of the General Assembly may be convened by joint proclamation of the presiding officers of both houses. As legislators are entitled to a per diem of $111 for special session days, the GOP lawmakers have pledged to not accept per diems for any special session days called for budget purposes.