Editorial: One more call to action on state budget


Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton listen as Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks about making changes in the state on Jan. 12, 2015 at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Ill. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

By Herald & Review in Decatur

It has been 222 days that the state of Illinois has been without a budget. That’s long enough.

The impact of having no budget is evident in a number of ways. State Comptroller Leslie Munger estimated last week that without any resolution, the state will end the fiscal year with a $6.2 billion deficit. Munger also pointed out that paying for that deficit entirely with taxes would require an income tax rate of about 8 percent, nearly double the current rate of 3.75. The temporary income tax rate of 5 percent has significantly affected the state’s economy.

Think of the harm an 8 percent tax rate would cause. State spending is continuing at roughly the level of last fiscal year through a series of court decrees and legislative actions. At the same time, the state has $5 billion less in revenue because of the rollback of the income tax rate.


To make matters worse, the people being hurt most by the lack of a budget are those who depend on state services the most. Poor people and universities are being devastated by the lack of a budget.

Eastern Illinois University announced last week that it was laying off more than 200 employees because of the lack of a state budget. But the lack of a budget is affecting every person and every business in a negative way.

Companies are delaying any ideas of expansion because of the uncertainty. Jobs are declining and people are leaving the state in record numbers. A solution is reachable.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has agreed there will be a need to raise some taxes. What he wants in return is consideration of term limits, the process the state uses to draw political maps, changes to the collective bargaining process, worker’s compensation reforms and other matters that will help attract new business.

Everyone realizes that solving the crisis will take a combination of tax increases, spending reductions and growth. The political stalemate that’s being harbored by House Speaker Michael Madigan ignores that simple fact.

It’s time, actually past time, for this to stop. Today, we’re calling on our local legislators to put pressure on their political leaders to work toward a solution. That means we want Sens. Dale Righter, Chapin Rose and Andy Manar and Reps. Bill Mitchell, Sue Scherer, David Reis and Reginald Phillips to get involved and demand that a budget be approved soon. We want action.

Their message to their leaders should be clear: Get this solved.


This is also a call to action for voters. It’s time to write or call the governor, the speaker, the senate president, your representative and your senator and tell them the state needs a budget. Call or write today and every day. Demand that they work quickly toward a resolution. Let them know that your vote depends on their commitment to action. 

For too long, too many of us have watched this fiasco, shrugged and said, “That’s Illinois.” We cannot keep that attitude. The state needs a budget and it needs one now. 


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