To the Editor:
I am hopeful the “stop-gap” budget approved last month will be a bridge to a full-year budget agreement that does not raise taxes. The plan passed on June 30 provides a surprising increase from last year’s funding for K-12 education in the upcoming school year, but it only provides six months of funding for human services, public safety and other state programs and services. That’s unacceptable and, most of all, the math does not seem to work. We need a 12-month budget - as required by our state constitution - that does not spend more money than we take in.
Springfield often forgets about the 12 million Illinois citizens and focusses instead on itself. In this case, placating the public in order to make it through the next election and knowing that this stop-gap might just result in another tax increase. For too long the motivation has been politics rather than the people. Growing government through overspending, overtaxing and overregulating hurts Illinois. It’s the primary reason why Illinois’ economy continues to struggle and why the state is so deeply in debt.
Illinois needs structural reforms to how it conducts public business and in the taxation and regulation of the free market economy. It’s critical that we implement pro-business and pro-jobs policies. Growing the economy will help get our state’s fiscal house in order. It means opportunity for employers and employees, thereby creating more revenue for government to provide the critical services for our most vulnerable citizens. A revitalized Illinois is important for our future too. Getting our fiscal house in order will help get our public debt under control so government does not become a burden for our children and grandchildren.
At the heart of the long budget stalemate is an argument that the budget and reforms should not be tied together. In reality, they are linked because they impact each other at the fundamental financial level and they impact the lives of Illinois citizens. The road to opportunity and prosperity is clear. It includes structural reforms to improve our business/jobs climate and government reforms. It means ending the failed policies of the past and being honest with the citizens about how much money we have to spend.
Let’s take the opportunity the “stop-gap” budget agreement presents and work together to restore confidence in state government, revitalize our economy, inspire hope and create opportunity for everyone.
State Senator – 54th District