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Friday, July 31, 2009

The Illinois budget problem

My State Representative, Ray Poe (R-99), defends himself against last Sunday's editorial with a letter to the editor today:

Your recent Sunday editorial, “Illinois sadly lacking in statesmanship” (July 19) expresses the view that I chose to overlook “the not-so-tough choice of voting for borrowing money to keep the state running.” While your analysis of the situation is appreciated and expected considering our state’s fiscal mess, I would like to take the opportunity to explain my opposition to this budget.

Before I continue, I have to say that even though I am a Democrat, I like Ray Poe a lot. I've met him several times and I believe he is very sincere in his efforts as a state legislator. His letter continues:

As I have previously stated, Illinois must enact true fiscal reform if we expect to address our current fiscal crisis head on. We cannot and will not dig ourselves out of this hole if we continue to rely on temporary fixes to a seemingly endless problem....
We must look beyond short-term quick-fix gimmicks to find real solutions -- the use of gimmicks and overspending are both part of the reason we are in the position we are in today.

He goes on to suggest some things that can be done to patch the budget holes, including reforming Medicaid and putting a "moratorium on new state programs" until we're on even footing.

He's got a big problem with how the former governor restructured so many state agencies and his leftover appointees:

One of the major complaints I hear from state employees is that there are too many people in supervisory roles and not enough front-line workers. State government cannot run efficiently if we continue to operate under the old system. As it is, the damage done to our state’s reputation will take years to repair.

I don't think anyone thinks these things are enough to fill the budget holes. In his letter, Rep. Poe doesn't say if he would be in favor of an income tax increase, but what else can be left? (Read the whole letter.)

More cut-backs? Today the governor announced $1 billion in so-called budget hole fixes, none of them designed to shore up the operations of Illinois state government. The governor's fixes, which the legislature actually forced him to deal with, will not make the state "leaner and meaner" or even more efficient. Rather, these fixes will diminish the state's ability to operate. And, the governor did exactly what Rep. Poe didn't want him to do by laying off over 2,500 state employees. That is going to be very painful.

Posted by Marie at July 31, 2009 10:45 PM


There's always been a choice for the people of Illinois, but the political process rewards dishonesty, and denial.

If citizens of the state want government services they must pay for them - it's as simple as that.

Are governmental administrative cost too high? Absolutely, yet there isn't enough fat to trim to balance the budget, which means services will be cut which people depend upon.

We taxpayers must face the truth, and let our elected officials know that we want our children well educated, our streets repaired, our elderly well attended, our communities well policed, our criminals locked up, our air, water, and food clean and safe, etc. That going to take a tax increase - we're just going to have to accept it.

Good post Marie.

Posted by: Jerome Prophet at August 1, 2009 11:56 AM

Speaking from deep within the smoking fiscal crater formerly known as California: good luck. The one thing you can count yourself lucky for is not having to submit the short-term solutions to a popular vote, the way we do here. That factor, along with the need to get a two-thirds vote to approve taxes, has made it virtually impossible to do anything but come up with a pathetic patchwork of "solutions" that everyone knows simply defers our problems for a few months.

Posted by: Dan at August 1, 2009 12:56 PM

Thanks, JP. You've given me an idea for another post. Later.

Dan, We're watching California. Weird thing, many, many years ago a similar voter approval system was proposed for Illinois. Weirder thing, the guy who was behind it is our current governor. I think we're all glad it didn't happen. I think.

Posted by: Marie at August 1, 2009 2:31 PM

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