GOP Senator On Hopes For A Budget Deal: Trying To Find The "Right Balance"

Feb 6, 2017

State Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) sat down with us to talk about the state budget impasse, efforts to reach compromise and the Attorney General’s attempt to stop payment to government workers without spending authorization.

On the public’s view of state government:

This is probably, if not an all-time high, then very close to that in terms of the frustration level,” Righter said. “My faith teaches me every time you encounter a crisis like this, there is an opportunity of equal magnitude on the other side.   (It’s) an opportunity to talk to those constituents and lay out before them how immense those challenges are because of years and years of fiscal mismanagement.”

On the potential for a compromise soon:

“There are still moving parts. There are still negotiations going on to find that right balance,” he said. “Economic reforms need to accompany a spending plan.   I know there are others who think otherwise. Their primary point is don’t hook these other reforms to the budget because they are not relevant.  I respectfully disagree. They are directly relevant to your tax revenue and spending.”

On the politics of tying those ideas to the budget:

“Let’s be clear. Changing Illinois’ economic policies is not something some of us would like to do.  It’s a must,” Righter said. “This is the only way we are going to get the reforms we think we need to have.”

On proposals to help businesses:

“(Illinois) policies put us at a disadvantage when it comes to economic growth and opportunity. And that has to change. The only way to balance your budget long term is through economic growth.”

On the potential a Senate compromise could stall in the House:

“I think every member of the Senate is keenly aware, having watched what Speaker Madigan and the house have done in the past few years, that it’s a distinct possibility.”

On Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s effort to stop paying state workers without a budget:

“The law is the law. I’m a little curious about the Attorney General’s timing. But she’s right on the law. The simple fact is public funds are not to be expended without an appropriation from the General Assembly.  The expectation is she will enforce Illinois law and that’s what she’s doing.”

On Eastern Illinois University funding concerns:

“I do not think they are on the brink of financial collapse or extinction. As far as the transformation, Eastern is working on that. I’m very pleased to see the President at Eastern give serious scrutiny to the academic programs and services being offered. And if some of those are outdated or outmoded, it’s time to move on from those.”