By: Joe Sosnowski, State Representative 69th District
As the chorus grows of those justifiably calling for an end to the budget impasse, I wanted to not only take a moment to restate the many solutions my colleagues and I have attempted to advance in an effort to bring about a resolution to this dire situation, but also reiterate my commitment to a reasonable, rational and responsible solution to our budget crisis. The heated rhetoric from nearly every corner of state government has overshadowed the true heart of the conflict: the fact that taxpayers cannot be expected to pay any more for state government before there is a guarantee that their tax dollars aren’t wasted.
That’s the issue. Reform before revenue.
Even the staunchest opponents of government spending admit we can’t cut our way out of this situation. That said, the majority party and its leadership, have repeatedly called for a balanced approach yet have not offered a single measure of reform in exchange for new revenue, nor put a single tax hike up for a vote.
They haven’t done it because they know the taxpayers of Illinois won’t tolerate it. So we’re in the situation we are in, with a Governor who has stood firm on his promise to change Springfield opposite a majority leadership who is willing to change nothing.
My Republican colleagues and I have put forward proposal after proposal aimed at taking care of the inadvertent victims of this crisis, the largest of which remaining are our social service providers, the higher education community and the people who rely on both of these systems. Unlike the other bills allowed a vote, these solutions implement the appropriations and fund those commitments and allow for modest reforms to happen.
Senate Bill 3418 was introduced last week which sought to fund upwards of $1.3 billion in social services, but unlike the proposal that was voted on in the House that was nearly triple the size, this proposal included a funding stream through constitutional pension reforms that would have realized moderate, yet immediate savings to offset these costs.
In addition, House Bill 4521 was recently introduced to fund our higher education system through operational costs and MAP grants, but again unlike the proposals allowed to be heard, it was tied to a measure giving the governor fiscal latitude to free up funding and offset the costs. These are responsible proposals.
Both of these measures were reasonable solutions in the face of uncertain circumstances and neither of them received a fair hearing. Instead, we’re continually called on for reasonable solutions while ironically being shut out of the process, by the majority party. We can’t continue with an irresponsible spending approach. Tough decisions have to be made to save our state from further fiscal peril.