A Publication of WTVP

The primary election is over, and it is time for the governor and members of the general assembly to develop a business plan for the State of Illinois.

The state’s fiscal house is in shambles because our elected leaders have consistently ignored the constitutional mandate for a balanced budget. The state is insolvent. If our state were a private concern, it would be in bankruptcy.

The statehouse talk will quickly turn to tax increases to solve the state’s fiscal failings. But before they increase taxes, they need to demonstrate the kind of fiscal discipline exhibited by the private sector these last two years. They need to create a balanced budget, pay down debt and promote job growth, which will spur more revenue.

State budgeters have acted as if somehow their programs and obligations have been immune to the consequences of the second worst economic downturn in the last century. State government leaders should have made real budget reductions years ago. Deferring and denying is no longer an option. It is time for action.

Cutting the Budget
Controlling spending requires an intense focus on expenses associated with three key budget areas: healthcare, pensions and corrections.

The existing public sector retirement programs are unaffordable. Private sector employers started restructuring their pension programs over a decade ago, and it’s time for government to do the same. The state should establish a two-tier system that aligns pension plans for newly hired employees to match what the state is actually willing to pay.

Investing in Jobs
As every business knows, balancing the budget is not only about cutting expenses. Investment is crucial. The state’s business plan needs to prioritize job generation that will spur economic growth, private sector investment and tax generation. For example, the state should:

Our political leadership must recognize that when free enterprise is allowed to flourish, state revenue will grow. They should not seek tax increases until they have demonstrated their mettle by coming up with a plan that works for the state this year and beyond. iBi