State House candidate Katherine Ruocco filed petition to send Illinois House members back to work
When the Illinois House of Representatives adjourned this spring despite a plea by State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) to continue working to solve critical issues crippling the state, House District 113 candidate Katherine Ruocco took action.
Ruocco decided to put her frustration to work by filing a petition to send the House back to work.
“Despite the budget impasse, the Illinois House was only scheduled to be in session a handful of days prior to the upcoming primary election," the petition stated. "The session schedule in Illinois is set at the sole discretion of the leader of the respective chambers, and was selected by House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is heavily engaged in primaries throughout Illinois. By contrast, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton scheduled session throughout the month of March."
The petition went on to emphasize the urgency of resolving more than $7 billion in unpaid bills, which has greatly impacted the most vulnerable, higher education and many social services.
“Our state representative and the legislature controlled by Chicago Democrats should have joined their colleagues in urging Speaker Madigan to stay in session until a budget compromise is reached,” Ruocco said.
The move to adjourn left many lawmakers and citizens alike stunned that the House leadership would rather take a break instead of work toward resolving the financial crisis impacting so many Illinoisans.
“With more than two-thirds of fiscal 2016 having passed with the state lacking an overall budget, and as of this month, Illinois’ unpaid bills at $7.3 billion (according to the state comptroller’s office), our Illinois State House of Representatives has decided to take a four-week Spring Break,” the petition states. “Please sign this petition and stand with me in opposition to the Illinois State House of Representatives Spring Break and demand they immediately return to Springfield and do the important work that they were elected for and are being paid to do.”
Before the adjournment, Demmer made a motion to avoid the scheduled break and asked for his fellow legislators to meet the next day to continue working to solve pressing issues the state currently faces.
“Mr. Speaker, several times during today’s debate we’ve heard this is not a solution, that there’s still work to do, that we still have a lot of conversations to have and bills to work on,” Demmer said during a floor speech. “I’m asking that the House stand adjourned until tomorrow at 12 noon. If you vote ‘Yes,’ you’re voting to keep working. If you vote ‘No,’ you’re voting to leave for more than a month and not come back until April. I ask that you stand with me. I ask for a recorded vote on a motion to adjourn 'til Friday, March 4 at the hour of noon.”
But Demmer’s motion was quickly dismissed by Democrat leadership before any formal discussion or vote was made.
Illinois has been grappling with a debilitating financial crisis and has been operating without a budget since July 2015, when Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed an unbalanced spending plan sent to him by the Democrat-controlled legislature. Efforts to resolve the financial mess have been fruitless as legislators continue to remain deadlocked on key spending issues. Illinois House members are paid more than $67,000 annually.
According to House rules, a motion to adjourn can be made at any time, except when a prior motion has been defeated. Demmer’s motion was ruled as out of order by Democratic-led leadership, leading many to believe the scheduled break was politically driven.
“It’s egregious that House Democrats would find it acceptable to take a month off during the heart of legislative session, especially given the challenges we face,” Demmer told The Caucus Blog. “My motion to stay in session was legitimate and was made completely in line with the House rules — the Democrats’ own rules.”
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