He did inherit a mess that has been made worse by a serious economic downturn, but he has done little to distance himself from the Blagojevich tax-and-spend legacy. Illinois’ problems were not caused by the recession and they will not be cured by the recovery.
ALL LAWMAKERS MUST HAVE A VOICE
The old ways of closed-door budget talks must change, as well.
For years, we have not been allowed any input on the budget but the current Administration has been quick to ask us to share the blame for their failed policies and to vote for a tax increase to fix their fiscal mess. We are ready to work but want a seat at the table. Our ideas deserve a hearing.
BUDGET WORK SHOULD NOT BE DELAYED
Work must begin sooner, rather than later, on fixing the state’s financial system.
The Governor has found time to assess the State on January 13, but it seems there will be no real substantive discussions about the whole financial mess until March, as the Governor has asked that his budget address be delayed until then. We cannot afford to wait to start our work.
The House of Representatives is considering legislation that would push Quinn’s budget address into March. The Governor’s budget plan is traditionally presented in mid-February. The state’s fiscal year begins July 1.
ADDITIONAL MEASURES CONSIDERED
A number of additional measures were considered by the General Assembly this week.
Early Release Program (SB 1013): Requires an inmate serve at least 60 days on their sentence before being given meritorious credit that allows an early release from prison. I supported this measure because it puts standards in place that would prevent situations like the Department of Corrections’ early-release scandal.
McPier Board (SB 1868): Replaces the current 13-member board of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority with a new 7-member interim board. I opposed this measure because we do not need Chicago Democrat leaders handpicking their own board.
Utility Tax Exemption (SB 328): Changes the job retention thresholds for the utility tax exemption, but only for manufacturing businesses that produce steel items. I supported this measure because it will help businesses like Keystone Steel & Wire Co. in Bartonville get through this tough economy and save more than 1,000 local jobs.
Additional borrowing (SB 1425): Authorizes the Governor to borrow $250 million to pay some of the state’s overdue bills. I fully understand that the state’s delay in paying its bills is putting extreme pressure on many agencies and vendors, but the state simply cannot continue to borrow more money. We must consider the effects of ever-increasing debt on our children and grandchildren and other future taxpayers. For much the same reasons, I also oppose a request by Southern Illinois University for statutory authority to allow university officials engage in short-term borrowing.