To the Editor:
Recently, Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his third annual budget address. I commend the governor on outlining very clear direction on the path that we should take to get Illinois back on track.
By underscoring the job loss that Illinois has seen in recent years because of our policies and our inability to demonstrate fiscal discipline, Gov. Rauner did a great job framing the discussion. While the states around us grow jobs, Illinois continues to lose jobs and lose residents.
We need to change the way we do business in Illinois. We need to begin with cuts to government and reductions in spending, but we also need to perform. To that end, we need reforms that will make Illinois more attractive to employers – we will never repair the fiscal damage done to our state unless we grow our economy.
After years of unbalanced budgets, costly expansions of government and passage of policies that drive employers – and jobs – out of Illinois, it’s an understatement to say the state is facing significant challenges. It’s estimated that without a change to the status quo, Illinois is on track to end the fiscal year with a bill backlog of $13.5 billion. Even more shockingly, that amount could increase to a mind-boggling $47 billion in just five years without dramatic changes to state spending and revenues.
Taking all this into account, sadly I no longer believe proposals suggesting Illinois just “cut its way out of the problem” are realistic. However, I was pleased to hear the governor say that any income tax increase must be offset by relief in other areas, particularly freezing property taxes.
As you well know, property taxes in our area are some of the highest in the country. These costs are pushing people out of their communities and out of the state.
We need to do something about reducing the property tax burden, and I’m in agreement that if we are discussing the need for increased revenues, it’s imperative that we take into account these costs and take action to mitigate that burden.
While there are tremendous challenges facing us, it is our responsibility to take the direction the governor has provided and move forward. It is time for us, the General Assembly, to take the message and the framework and do the jobs we were sent to Springfield to do.
State senator for Illinois' 33rd District