While schools, nonprofits and other residents and organizations across the state are anxiously watching lawmakers in Springfield as they try to construct the state's first budget in two years, two local senators are disappointed in the years of stagnation but hopeful for compromise in 2017.
State Sens. Michael Connelly, R-Wheaton, and Chris Nybo, R-Elmhurst, both spoke with Suburban Life in the weeks leading up to their current legislative session, where legislators will try to pass the state's first full budget in years.
Nybo said years of personal investment in the process and the challenge of politicians who were unwilling to involve Gov. Bruce Rauner in the process had left him somewhat discouraged.
"The longer I do this, the less confident I am," Nybo said on the chances of a budget coming this year. "That doesn't mean I'll shy away from it – I'm going to be more involved."
The two said there would have to be compromise on both sides of the aisle, with both all-revenue and all-cut solutions likely ending with another stalemate.
Both also acknowledged there would likely have to be some hard decisions to be made in the coming weeks and months.
Nybo said he believed all discretionary spending should remain on the table to close the gap between the projected $38 billion budget and $32 billion in revenue, including school funding, though he didn't want to take money away from schools that weren't seeing lowered attendance.
"I think every group is suffering right now due to a lack of budget, but they need to know that funding will never be made whole," he said. "We're spending more than we have coming in, and there are groups looking for the good old days."
Connelly agreed, saying the state needed to wean many organizations off the idea that the state government was the only way to get a balanced budget, but he firmly believed the real reform and mandate relief included in a hopeful budget would offset losses in funding.
"There's a level of frustration," Connelly said. "We all have constituents who are impacted ... I did not think we would be here, but we can't turn back the clock. We're here today. ... There's no easy answers to what's happening down here."
However, he said he felt confident that senators across the state were working hard to come up with a solution.
Nybo said he hoped his constituents would become more involved in the process.
"People really need to pay attention – it may be entertaining to watch what's going on in D.C. ... but local stuff is just as important," he said.