Legislators address state's economic climate
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From Sen. Larry Bomke and Reps. Raymond Poe
and Rich Brauer
[MARCH 11, 2006]
In light of the numerous allegations of
pay-to-play politics, critical audits and stories that undermine the
credibility of both the governor and his administration, it is easy
to see why Gov. Rod Blagojevich would try to put a good face on
Illinois' financial situation.
However, as the Legislature prepares to vote on the governor's
proposed state budget, we think it is important for the people of
central Illinois to understand the reality of the state's economic
climate and what Blagojevich has really done for the state of
Over the last 3½ years, the governor has introduced
budgets that rely on borrowing and reflect spending increases that
will only exacerbate the fiscal instability of the state's current
and future economy.
On Blagojevich's watch, the state's bonded indebtedness has risen
from $10 billion to nearly $23 billion in just three years. Right
now, Illinois has the worst-funded pension system in the nation,
with $38.6 billion in additional unfunded liability, and despite the
governor's excessive borrowing, Illinois still owes an unprecedented
$1.8 billion in backlogged bills to state contractors.
Ignoring the state's record-high debt, the governor is pressuring
lawmakers to approve a budget that would increase state spending by
$1.4 billion. Two hundred million dollars has been earmarked for new
state programs, despite reports that the underfunding of the state's
prisons, mental health facilities and veterans homes has led to
serious staff reductions at these facilities. And -- once again --
this budget will rely on raiding over $1 billion from the pensions
of Illinois' hardworking downstate teachers and state employees.
The governor is also peddling a $3.3 billion proposal to build
roads and expand Illinois' transportation infrastructure, to be
funded by additional state borrowing. Without a revenue stream that
does not rely on more bonding, this enormous project will be neither
responsible nor fiscally possible.
Blagojevich contends that this program will create new jobs
throughout Illinois. However, repeated stories of impropriety and
inaccuracy within the governor's administration leave us wondering
if we can believe these claims.
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A recent auditor general report outlined errors and inflated job
numbers by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity which
suggested that the governor's administration has been purposely
misrepresenting Illinois' job growth -- to the tune of almost 80,000
jobs. This is nothing new; the Blagojevich administration has
repeatedly relied on twisted figures and numbers taken out of
context when reporting to the public on unemployment rates, state
savings and job growth.
Blagojevich has been reaching out to the public, asking the
people of central Illinois to urge their legislators to seize the
opportunity to approve this multibillion-dollar capital building
program. He has also been publicly encouraging lawmakers to not "let
partisan politics get in the way of progress."
However, what the governor calls "progress," we view as another
step back for our constituents and the hardworking people of this
state. We have serious misgivings about the governor's budget
proposal and must call into question his credibility and true
intentions in presenting a campaign-year budget that would further
undermine the fiscal solvency of this state and work detrimentally
against the future taxpayers of Illinois.
Sen. Larry Bomke
50th Senate District
Rep. Raymond Poe
99th Representative District
Rep. Rich Brauer
100th Representative District
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