Illinois needs change now

When Gov. Bruce Rauner took office, it only took him a few weeks to realize that Illinois’ financial problems were worse than he realized. Now after a few months of working with legislature, he understands the state’s political obstaclesto progress are even more formidable than he imagined.

Rauner thought the Democratic majority in the House and Senate wanted to reach a permanent solution to the state’s pension and budget crises, and to open doors to business. He’s finding out that their first priority is to protect the special interests and the status quo. They would rather take the easy route of raising taxes on all state residents than make any changes that hurt their staunchest supporters: state employees, union leaders and trial lawyers.

Today begins the last scheduled week of the legislative session, and there are still miles to go on what Rauner hoped to accomplish. The budget hole has yet to be filled, and it’s uncertain whether his key issues like workers’ comp reform will happen. He has already backed down on his right-to-work proposal.

Now that the Supreme Court has nixed the pension reforms intended to save millions of dollars, some sort of tax increase is probably going to be necessary. But Rauner is right to refuse to even discuss that possibility until lawmakers agree to some fundamental changes.

Rauner wrote in a column published in the State Journal-Register: “Budget deadline or no budget deadline, I will not ask the people of Illinois to put more of their money into a broken system.”

We’re counting on him to hold firm on that promise. And we’re counting on voters to remember who is refusing to take steps to fix this broken state.