As Illinois hasn’t had a budget in two years, the state senate, on May 30, took the time to pass a bill mandating safe trampolines.
Introduce by Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, the trampoline bill amends the Amusement Ride and Attraction Safety Act. It gives the Department of Labor a way to charge registration fees to trampoline courts. Funds will be deposited into the Illinois Trampoline Safety Fund.
Amid what is now a deep-rooted impasse, the trampoline bill passed through the Illinois House April 28 with a simple majority. Wednesday, the Senate floated it through with a vote of 43-9.
According to Illinois Policy, the trampoline law is going to be a costly undertaking for the state. To regulate Illinois’ trampoline courts, the Department of Revenue must purchase expensive inspection equipment and pay overtime for inspectors to travel around the state to make sure trampolines are in tip-top shape.
Some say lawmakers were better to bounce toward a balanced budget, which would be Illinois’ first in 16 years.
But, instead, the passage of the trampoline bill took precedent over the $5.4 billion tax increase Senate Democrats pushed through a week earlier. The tax hike was passed despite that the majority of Illinoisans against it.
Democrats want tax hikes to come by way of Senate Bill 9, which will expand sales taxes and increase franchise levies.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) May 31, 2017
Also passing through the Senate this week was a bill that requires accurate labeling of catfish. The new law will impose penalties on restaurants that sell other fish, namely Asian swai, as catfish.
Two-party boxing match
Illinois’ woes are directly related to the political dust-up between Democrats and Republicans, both knee-deep in a blame game that has reached near financial disaster for social services agencies, public schools, municipalities, and colleges. About $1.1 billion in payments have been halted since the budget mess began.
As a result, the state’s credit rating is plummeting and taking those of its public colleges and universities with it. Illinois is now the only state in the nation to go almost two years without passing a budget.
In the Democratic corner, House Speaker Michael Madigan said Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is “reckless,” pandering to the financial services and corporate sectors.
“(The governor is) holding the budget hostage to create leverage for his corporate agenda that pads the profits of large corporations and insurance companies has for the third year left Illinois without a budget at the end of the May legislative session,” Madigan said in a statement to Reuters.
Madigan wasn’t alone. Senate President John Cullerton (D) took his own jabs at Rauner, accusing the billionaire of killing a spending plan that had the backing of both parties. He said Rauner’s vagueness about his demands for property tax freezes did nothing but further a GOP filibuster.
“(Rauner) came in the middle of the process, told Republicans to vote ‘no,’ didn’t give support and the same thing happened in the House,” Cullerton said.
Cullerton said Republicans could have voted, but chose to follow Rauner.
“As a result, we don’t have a budget,” he said.
House Speaker Michael Madigan appoints four top Democrats to work with Gov. Bruce Rauner on non-budget agenda items. https://t.co/KwgcIRuBiF
— CBS Chicago (@cbschicago) May 8, 2017
Rauner, who handily defeated Pat Quinn in 2014, would have none of the lashing, firing back at his Democratic adversaries.
“Today we’ve seen a complete dereliction of duty by the (Democratic) majority in the General Assembly,” Rauner said, calling the absence of a spending plan a tragic failure of the people of Illinois.
The House has yet to discuss the Senate’s $37.3 billion budget for fiscal 2018, and aren’t expected to before the June 30 end of the state’s fiscal year.
Illinois’ unpaid bills are now $14 billion. The state has not approved a budget since 2015, about 700 days ago.
[Featured Image by Thinkstock/Getty Images]