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Legislators address state's economic climate          Send a link to a friend

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 Illinois.

Over the last 3 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

[From Illinois Senate Republicans]

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