Dist. 79 House candidate calls Cloonen’s support of imbalanced budget ‘despicable’
District 79 Republican House candidate Lindsay Parkhurst slammed House legislators, particularly her opponent, state Rep. Kate Cloonen (D-District 79), for recently voting to pass a budget plan that would sink the state further into debt – a move Parkhurst calls “despicable.”
“Our state is on the verge of financial disaster if we are not already there,” Parkhurst told the Kankakee Time. “So the legislators have to realize that. And to pass this budget and vote ‘yes’ for it, especially our area (the 79th District) is one of the most challenged in the state.”
Last week, Cloonen joined the Chicago House delegation to vote for an income tax hike and to require taxpayers throughout the state to bailout Chicago Public Schools by increasing their subsidies – all part of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s (D-District 22) proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
According to the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, the budget proposed spending $39 billion while the state is only projected to receive $32 billion in revenue due to the expiration of the 2011-2015 temporary income tax increase, forcing the state to spend $7 billion more than it rakes in.
While the state would continue to rely on court orders and consent decrees to fund government services, approximately $13.7 billion would have been taken out of the general revenue fund, according to the plan, which ultimately was rejected in the Senate before the spring legislative session ended at midnight Tuesday.
“I think it is despicable,” Parkhurst said. “We need to not spend more than we make as a state."
Parkhurst said that given the grave financial condition Illinois is in, legislators should be voting for a plan that actually benefits the people in their districts.
“Just to get on board with Madigan and vote for $7 billion more than we make, I don’t know how that can be reality," she said. "So I don’t think (Cloonen) is paying attention. I think she is just voting to vote for what Madigan says to vote for. And then to leave the session without fixing the problem... . When you are elected to run for the state legislature you have to do two things: you have to show up for work and you have to pass a balanced budget — that is constitutionality mandated to pass a balanced budget. They are not doing that and that is what is wrong with our state.”
The plan also would have provided an additional $500 million appropriation for poverty-stricken school districts and an additional $75 million for early childhood education. Although the amount the bill would have earmarked for schools surpassed Rauner’s proposed additional $55 million, the bill did not propose changes to the state’s school funding formula.
During an intense session in the House last week, Republicans protested the imbalanced bill and the fact that they had been given insufficient time to review the 500-page document, in addition to the missed verification of the 63-53 vote.
“What (Madigan) did is gave them the budget and it was 500 pages, and they called for a vote an hour and a half later," Parkhurst said. "That is less than 11 seconds a page to read the document that is going to control our financial future as a state or the lack of it. Really? I am an attorney, if you wanted me to go in and represent your case, no matter what it was -- whether it was bankruptcy, whether it was corporate, whether it was a divorce -- would you want me to spend 11 seconds on the 500-page document I would need to argue your case? How could I do that? I would be sued for malpractice."
Parkhurst added that in presenting such a budget, Madigan “just showed everybody that he doesn’t care.”
“He is Darth Vader, and he’s in charge of the Death Star," she said. "That is not fair to anybody who lives in the state... . It is just not fair and not just, and it needs to be stopped.
Earlier this year, Cloonen voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the highly contested House Bill 580, which sought to steer contract negotiations between the state and employee unions to binding arbitration, and cost taxpayers more than $3.6 billion.
With Cloonen and Parkhurst battling to win over voters in District 79 this November, it will be interesting to see what, if any, effect Cloonen’s recent voting record will have on constituents.
“I’m looking forward to (the race)," Parkhurst said. "I’ve never run for political office before. I don’t want to be a politician; I have a career. This is not going to be my career. I am really going down there to represent the people of the 79th District and the people of the state of Illinois, and try to fight for what is right to save our state and to get us back on track.”
Turning things around in Illinois will be an arduous task, but Parkhurst is up for the challenge.
“It is not going to be easy; it is going to be tough," she said. " But if we can do it one piece at a time — remove the mountain one rock at a time — it is doable. We just can’t be overwhelmed by that thought, and I’m used to taking on challenges. I am looking forward to it. I am walking the district and getting to know people, and I hope they vote for me.”