To the Editor:
While the state budget impasse continues, state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) and state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) still support the spending plan passed by the legislature promising to cover essential services but with a deficit of more than $3 billion (See their articles in the June 17 Herald). Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed this budget , insisting on passage of his business growth plan. Now, a one-month budget extension is pending.
Both approaches seem wrong-headed. Currie in her article in the June 17 issue of the Herald proposes solving the budget short-fall by looking first for “new sources of revenue” by which I think she means new taxes. Some of the governor’s proposals may well benefit the state in the long run. However, he has spent too much time trying to limit union power rather than finding immediate solutions to our fiscal problems.
Taxpayers doubtless will pay more to help cover the deficit. I’d like to hear much more from the legislative leaders and the governor about decreasing the size of Illinois government. We have more governmental units such as townships, mosquito abatement districts and mid-level administrators than other states, all requiring personnel, funding, etc. Here, the average citizen needs the courage of the state’s legislative leaders including Currie to point the way to downsizing government without hazarding services to those most in need.
The legislature and its leadership should remember that a Republican governor was just elected, signifying a wish by voters for a change in direction. Speaker Mike Madigan and Currie are a bit disingenuous when in recent news reports they insist on negotiating with the governor only on budgetary matters, failing to acknowledge that politicians are usually willing to negotiate on all kinds of issues at once. Recently, the legislature passed a bill to be sure that their salaries are paid, despite a possible governmental shutdown.
Let us urge our state leaders to support a balanced approach to our budget problems that includes reducing unnecessary units of state government. Meanwhile, we taxpayers anxiously await contributions that are yet to be made by other constituencies – state pension reform still pending, state workers’ contracts uncertain — and up to now no sign that the legislature will cut its own expenses to help cover the deficit.
Alfred L. Baker M.D.