Each year, the governor is required to present an annual budget address by an established date. But this year, political posturing has taken precedence over statutory law—allowing the governor to push his budget blueprint back five weeks until after the March primary.
Gov. Quinn was expected to present his budget Feb. 19, but with help from Senate and House Democratic majorities he is now able to keep his budget plan out of the public eye until after the election. My concern is that this is a purely political move by Democrats and the governor to sidestep their responsibilities, raise taxes and increase spending.
Republicans have offered a number of comprehensive budget suggestions over the last 11 years that Democratic lawmakers and governors have controlled state finances. Our efforts have been ignored and even mocked. As a result, instead of embracing bipartisanship and adopting true fiscal reforms, over the past decade Illinois has dug a fiscal hole that has progressively become more difficult to climb out of.
At this time Illinois has the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the nation, the worst credit rating in the United States, record high taxes, and a growing number of backlogged bills.
Instead of fulfilling their promises to use the “temporary” tax hike to pay down old bills, Democrats have increased spending, expanded government programs and are now trying to reconcile their projected $3 billion budget hole by making the tax increase permanent or implementing a progressive tax – creating more uncertainty for Illinois’ fragile business climate.
Permanently fixing the state’s budget hinges largely on successfully rebuilding the state’s economy. We must improve our jobs climate by rolling back the 2011 income tax increase as promised and required by law, and derailing the progressive income tax debate. Enacting “primary causation” standards in workers’ compensation and developing long-lasting and sustainable economic development programs must also become top priorities.
We must restore fiscal discipline and seize every opportunity to achieve additional savings by targeting waste, fraud and excessive government spending. By establishing a common ground with our Democratic colleagues on these issues, and moving forward with efforts to seek bipartisan cost-saving solutions for issues such as education funding, pension reform, and Medicaid spending, I am confident we can turn things around in Illinois.
State Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, represents Illinois’ 41st Senate District and the Illinois Senate Republican Leader.