Senate Week in Review: Politics or People?
Members of the Illinois General Assembly will be back at the Capitol beginning Jan. 30 for the start of the 2018 spring session. 2018 is an election year, but I hope politics will take a back seat to what’s best for the people of Illinois.
There is certainly a lot on our plate this year, starting with the budget, the bills and the debt. The state’s economy has been long-ignored too. That’s because for too long, ideological politics have come to dominate the debate and the decision-making in Springfield.
In a recent report by the Illinois Policy Institute, Illinois’ economy lost the benefits of $3.4 billion in income to neighboring states from 2010 through 2015. During this time, Illinois was among the top states for out-migration. As I reported earlier this month, Illinois had the highest rate of out-migration among the 50 states in 2017. Since 2008, Illinois has ranked in the top-five states for out-migration. In 2016, Illinois lost more residents than any other state.
These facts tell us the political ideology of continued larger and more expensive government is not working. People are fleeing failure. The partisan political atmosphere that has dominated Springfield is not working.
Last month was the 10th anniversary of the start of the Great Recession. Experts tell us it lasted 18 months; but incredibly, while the rest of the country has long been in the midst of recovery since the Great Recession ended in June of 2009, Illinois continues to struggle with anemic economic growth. According to a recent report by the state’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CoGFA),“Illinois’ total real GDP grew from $671 billion in 2007 to $696 billion in 2016. This equals total growth of only 3.8%. This compares to growth of 9.1% for the rest of the Midwest and 10.7% for the U.S.”
2018 is an election year. Make those running for office pay attention. Demand change. Demand results. If we are serious about addressing Illinois’ fiscal crisis, we must implement reforms making government more efficient and accountable. It means not spending money we don’t have and being honest with the people about what we can afford. Getting our fiscal house in order inspires confidence among risk takers to invest in people and property. We simply cannot fix our state finances and take care of our responsibilities without restoring the state economy. That takes meaningful reform. We need fewer regulatory burdens, removing the roadblocks to job growth by boosting business expansion and retention. Without a growing economy Illinois can’t get out of debt, nor will we have the opportunity and prosperity we need to provide the jobs our citizens desire.
“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” – Abraham Lincoln, (1809 – 1865); 16th President of the United States, 1861 until his assassination in April of 1865; U.S. Representative; Illinois State Representative.