As we wrapped up the regular spring legislative session this week, Illinois House Republicans drove the General Assembly to a balanced budget by only allowing the Governor to spend money that we estimate we will receive in revenues next year. That number is $33.2 billion--any dime we receive above that number will go to pay down our backlog of bills.
Our spending level is $2 billion less than what Governor Quinn wanted to spend and $1 billion less than what the Illinois Senate originally wanted to spend. In fact, in a last ditch effort to spend more money, the Illinois Senate sent us legislation that would have tacked on more than $400 million. We rejected that.
Our conservative spending plan is on the Governor's desk now for his consideration.
For the first time in many years we are making our full pension payment without borrowing to pay for it.
In a bipartisan way in the House, we eliminated hundreds of millions in raises for state workers, cut grants, reduced travel lines for state agencies and reformed the Medicaid system saving taxpayers millions of dollars.
In addition to the comprehensive Medicaid reform package we advanced in January saving hundreds of millions of dollars, just this week we enacted an additional package of Medicaid reforms with the majority of them crafted by House Republicans that provide an additional $215 million in savings for taxpayers.
It is never easy to make cuts, but the budgets we passed will keep state spending under our revenue estimate of $33.2 billion. This is the only way we're ever going to get our bills paid, get our state finances back on track, and keep the temporary tax increase temporary.
This isn't going to be a one year process. If we hope to get out of the hole and stay out of the hole this is the way we need to approach the budget every year. It is going to take continued discipline to truly change the culture of spending which got us into this mess.
We are encouraging the Governor to take our approach and sign the budget we sent to him.