Three days of Special Session this week to deal with education funding in Illinois. Three days of no action. The majority party in the Senate still holds on to the legislation they passed on May 31 to fund elementary and secondary education in Illinois. However, the school funding controversy is just the tip of the iceberg of serious challenges facing Illinois that should be addressed.
School Funding Delay
The 60-day delay in sending the Governor Senate Bill 1 puts money for the new school year in jeopardy. It appears Democrats won’t send the Governor SB 1 until there are just a handful of critical days left before school starts. Gov. Rauner says he will alter the bill to remove its financial advantages for Chicago schools that downstate schools and students don’t receive, should the measure become law without changes. The real problem with the legislation is that is purports to provide $778 million in increased funding for education, money we do not have. The $36 billion budgetpassed July 6 is out of balance by $2.6 billion! The math is obvious: Spending is pegged at $37.6 billion. Estimated revenue is only $36.3 billion. That is a $1.3 billion structural deficit. The budget hole grows to $2.6 billion when you include $1.3 billion in unpaid bills left over from Fiscal Year 2017.
The Games Politicians Play
The fundamental problem in addressing our challenges is the political games being played. The games are played to guarantee a particular political outcome, regarding of how it affects the residents of Illinois. It’s a game of crisis politics, creating panic to coax quicker action and ultimately obscure the true impact of decisions made in Springfield.
Illinois is at a crossroads. Let’s ask ourselves about the road ahead: Will government act responsibly to foster prosperity and opportunity for today and the future, or will Illinois continue the mismanagement and political recklessness that has placed Illinois on the brink of fiscal collapse?
I believe serious changes are needed to ensure a prosperous future for everyone. Minor “band aid” policy changes that include taxing people more and hoping they will endure the abuse is not the answer. We’ve been down that road before. It doesn’t work.
The most obvious evidence that Illinois is on the wrong path is the number of people fleeing Illinois. Hundreds of thousands left after the 2011 income tax hike. How many will leave now after the July 6, 2017 permanent tax hike, the largest in state history? Only time will tell who stays and who goes.
May 25, 2017 – Illinois Policy Institute: Chicago only major U.S. city to lose population from 2015 to 2016 – “While major headlines broke over news that Chicago was the only one of America’s largest 20 cities to shrink from July 2015 to July 2016, most of Illinois’ other cities with 50,000 people or more also lost population.”
Reset. Recovery. Restore.
Illinois needs a political and fiscal reset, a paradigm shift in thinking. It’s not rocket science:
· Operate government with the same financial principles families and businesses follow to avoid financial ruin. Spend less and live within our means.
· Say no to new programs and projects taxpayers can’t afford.
· Be honest with the people about how much money is available.
· Pass government and business reforms to grow the economy and create new jobs.
We know the path we are on doesn’t work. For years, government has operated on the basis of spending more, making itself larger, creating dependency and taking more from taxpayers, both the taxpayers of today and future taxpayers.
The debt Illinois government has already created and not paid, combined with the new debt within the latest budget, will require the wealth of future generations. They will be stuck with the bills.
It’s time to reset our political and fiscal policies. That will lead to the recovery of our economy through reforms encouraging business expansion and job creation, and the restoration of free market principles that promote prosperity and opportunity for everyone.
What legacy will we leave our children and grandchildren? Prosperity or poverty? Blessing or burden?
“Business leaders are making decisions today on where to invest in the future. Illinois must act now, with a bipartisan sense of urgency, to position itself for future job creation that is being discussed in boardrooms all across this country. I want Illinois to be in the hunt for those types of investments, including investments by Caterpillar. Illinois deserves it.” – Doug Oberhelman
, Caterpillar Chairman and CEO; Op-ed, State Journal Register, February 14, 2012
– Mr. Oberhelman wrote these words more than five years ago. Some legislators still don’t get it.