Outgoing Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said he voted his conscience in one of his last official actions on Thursday, rejecting the state budget as being “more about politicians than the people.”
The Illinois Senate concluded its spring legislative session. In a column for his 54th District constituents, McCarter said the process was easier this year but no less productive in his mind.
“This year there was less political scheming than recent sessions when disagreements between the Legislature and the Governor clogged up the works and divided the two branches of state government along red lines that neither side wanted to cross,” he wrote.
This year’s session concluded with agreement on a new fiscal year state budget that will take state government, its agencies, programs and services from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. The budget deal passed the Senate on a vote of 56 to 2.
“I was one of two senators who voted no. In the end, it wasn’t a difficult decision. Common sense and principles were my motivation,” he said.
“Simply put, the reasons for opposing the budget deal, created behind closed doors between legislative leaders and the Governor’s office were few but, they are important. The first being the process by which we come to the point of voting on a massive spending plan was flawed. The budget was over 1,200 pages long. We were given the analysis on the details about an hour or so before the debate began.
“Later, we discovered there is $180 million for roads and $180 million for other infrastructure needs associated with former President Barak Obama’s Presidential Library in Chicago. With all the financial challenges facing Illinois, including billions of dollars in unpaid bills and massive pension debt, this is money we can ill-afford to misallocate. With such little time for review, how can there be any reasonable expectation of learning and pondering the details to decide if the budget is good for the people we represent?” he wrote.
The budget proposal was not broken down into individual bills dealing with various state agencies as in the past but instead it was presented in one bill. Buried in the bill was the spending of taxpayer dollars for abortion on-demand, as a result of the governor’s death penalty for the unborn that he signed into law last year, he said.
“House Bill 40 provides for taxpayer-funded abortions for Medicaid recipients and as part of state employee ‘health care’ plans. I might add that it provides for unrestricted abortions, meaning at any time and for any reason.”
The $38.5 billion budget was also not balanced as it was portrayed, he said. There are many unrealistic assumptions about expected tax revenue government will receive and promised spending cuts, which often have a way of never happening. Additionally, there is about $1.6 billion in overdue bills not addressed by this budget, which was admitted during the debate May 30, he said.
“You can accurately describe this budget as ‘make believe’.”
Following is exerpts from the remainder of the column to constituents:
“During the debate, there were a lot of congratulations on both sides of the aisle about the bipartisanship and cooperation that brought about the deal. Not a great accomplishment when you realize it’s easier to put together a budget when there is an extra pot of money. This is money from the hard-earned tax dollars of Illinois citizens who are paying higher taxes due to last year’s 32 percent increase in the income tax rate. Despite the extra tax dollars, the budget is not balanced because it fails to account for past-due bills as mentioned above.
“In my nine years in the Illinois Senate, I don’t believe the majority of lawmakers learned how to be fiscally responsible. This appears to be a problem only voters can fix. The people of Illinois wield the ultimate weapon of accountability: their vote.”
54th District Road Projects
Also during the week, the Illinois Department of Transportation unveiled an $11 billion, six-year plan for road and bridge construction and repair throughout the state.
During the coming fiscal year that begins July 1, 2018, IDOT has 11 projects planned for the 54th Senate District, which includes 11 miles of road improvements, two bridge replacements and repairs to a third span. The estimated cost of these projects tops $30 million. The largest of these projects is the $22 million transportation officials have planned for a bridge replacement and related work on Illinois Route 161 over Crooked Creek about eight miles east of Illinois Route 127 near Centralia in Clinton County.
Last spring session
“This is my last spring legislative session. As you know, I’ve been nominated to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, where my family has had a 30-year love affair with a great people, assisting some of the poorest of the poor with basic life needs, including medical care and education. On the last day of the 2018 spring session, I addressed my colleagues with these words:
“Our convictions and beliefs may be very different but that does not mean we cease to argue for them with the utmost respect for the person whose views we oppose… Government is a necessary institution but much less capable of delivering functional families, neighborhoods without killing and a peaceful and prosperous country than we think. Its’ effectiveness, I believe, will be equal to the compassion and servant leadership of the politicians in power and their willingness to have tough, crucial conversations…
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve with you, to spar with you, and be entertained by you. If not for the training and experience and wisdom I have gained from my time here in the Senate, if not for God’s provision, I would not be prepared for my next assignment to serve our country.
Lincoln said, ‘I bid you an affectionate farewell.’ I feel the same love for you. May God bless you and give you favor as you honor Him and serve, with courage, the people of Illinois.
“‘Tutaonana. Karibu Kenya.’ See you later. You’re always welcome.
“I would be honored to introduce you as my friends.”