Editorials

Break Springfield's silence by loudly demanding a balanced budget

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan is ignoring overtures from Gov. Bruce Rauner to talk about a state budget, 16 months after the last one expired. Illinois is heading toward $14 billion in unpaid bills with little hope for any fiscal controls.
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan is ignoring overtures from Gov. Bruce Rauner to talk about a state budget, 16 months after the last one expired. Illinois is heading toward $14 billion in unpaid bills with little hope for any fiscal controls. Associated Press

Illinois is learning a new interpretation of “silence is golden.”

Everyone thought all our state needed was to get past the election and the Illinois House, Senate and governor would finally after 16 months pass a budget for last year and this year. The time for talk, bargaining and deals begins Tuesday as the first of six veto session days starts in Springfield.

But, no. From Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan we get silence in response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s overtures. And that silence costs us all a lot of gold.

We sit atop a pile of overdue bills that totals $9.2 billion. If silence continues, it is expected to hit $14 billion.

Rauner is still insisting that Illinois cannot tax its way out of its severe money woes. Before he’ll agree to a budget and any tax hikes, Illinois needs some hope that it can again grow jobs and revenue by curbing public employee unions’ power, reforming the workers comp system and getting state government reforms such as term limits passed.

Madigan insists no progress will be made until Rauner drops all his conditions

The state doesn’t need more of our money. Illinois has the fifth-highest tax rate, $5,235 per person. Taxes have far outpaced inflation.

What it needs is something it hasn’t bothered with since 2001 — a balanced budget.

We don’t have a revenue problem. State lawmakers have a spending problem.

Madigan and Co. proved to be constitutional scholars when they got the courts to neuter the 563,974 registered voters who petitioned for an independent commission to draw state legislative districts. But they have ignored since 2001 the constitutional mandate to pass only balanced budgets, and on June 30, 2015, they graduated to ignoring the need to have budgets at all.

Lawmaker inaction does not help the Illinois middle class. Middle class inaction does not help lawmakers act.

Call your state lawmakers. Demand they get to the table and talk, or else rid Illinois of the Madigan silence and elect a new House speaker.

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