By: Mark Glennon*
Here’s a test: Read the 638 pages linked here and decide if you’d vote for it. You have four hours, during which you also have listen to the debate on a $5 billion tax increase and cast your vote on that.
Aside from the $5 billion tax increased passed yesterday, the Illinois House also passed a $36 billion spending plan — the budget, basically.
But it was new, and was popped on the House in mid-afternoon, just hours before the vote. “We have no idea what’s in it,” said House Minority Leader Jim Durkin at the time.
It came in the form of an amendment to Senate Bill 6 — but an amendment that’s 638 pages long.
“The Democrats made matters more complicated by filing a new spending bill within the last 15 minutes,” said Durkin, who was visibly agitated according to Illinois News Network.
You may recall that House Speaker Michael Madigan said on Saturday no votes would be taken over the weekend, but changed that later in the day to say the vote on the tax increase would be held on Sunday. He did not say the spending vote would be taken.
We now know at least one thing in it, a “boobytrap” for Governor Rauner, according to Capitol Fax, a publication that’s not generally friendly to him.
Here’s how the boobytrap works: It blocks the flow of money from the state to schools unless Rauner signs the school funding bill Democrats want. That’s Senate Bill 1, which recently passed the General Assembly but is opposed by many Republicans and is criticized as a bailout of Chicago schools. So, Rauner would have to sign Senate Bill 1 or face the charge by Democrats that he’s cutting off all school funding.
What else is in the spending plan? I’d say “God only knows,” but he’s definitely not who drafted it. House Speaker Michael Madigan knows, along with some other key Democratic legislators and staff, but that’s probably it.
Cramming complex bills through the House in the final hours is a tradition with Speaker Madigan. His party and many Republicans go along without objection. The spending plan passed 81 – 34 with significant Republican support.
*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.