The Beacon News

GOP reps call for budget reform downstate

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

AURORA -- Too much power in two few hands.
That's the way two Republican state legislators described the state of state government Monday night, before about 20 people at an Aurora Republican Women's Club meeting at Prisco Center.

State Sen. Randy Hultgren, R-Wheaton, and State Rep. Kay Hatcher, R-Oswego, said the legislature could be of more help in the current budget situation if there were less power concentrated in two people -- House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton.

"So much of what is done is directed by Mike Madigan," Hultgren said. "There is a weighted emphasis on a few districts in Chicago."

Hultgren managed to draw that comparison from his current job to the job he wants in the fall, that of U.S. Representative. He is running for the 13th District Congressional seat against incumbent Bill Foster, D-Batavia, and said just like in Springfield, Washington also has too much power vested in one party.

"I just don't think it works very well when one party controls every level of government," he said.

Hultgren and Hatcher agreed the predominant problem in Springfield is debt, and the problems debt is causing -- chiefly the state being unable to pay its commitments. Illinois is as far as six months behind in paying money owed to local governments and service providers.

Both legislators said they have bills they support that deal with the deficit and better budgeting procedures.
Hultgren is sponsoring a bill to make the budget timeline more closely match school funding cycles. He also supports a measure to cut unfunded mandates to schools.

Hatcher called for line-item approval of the budget, where legislators get to see each line item, rather than sums in general budget areas.

"We need to take a closer view of how the money is spent," she said.

She also has sponsored a bill requiring state agencies to have their budget reports -- which tell where and how much money was spent -- filed within six months, or the agency director's pay is withheld.

Both legislators said some good things have been accomplished within the past year, even though the money situation has overshadowed everything.

They cited rewriting the telecommunications bill, starting on pension reform and passing bills requiring better transparency in government as steps forward.