Editorials

State lawmakers will reform when pigs fly

Illinois lawmakers want to protect pork with a resolution touting its nutritional value. Too bad they don’t have time to pass a state budget, 133 days after the budget year began.
Illinois lawmakers want to protect pork with a resolution touting its nutritional value. Too bad they don’t have time to pass a state budget, 133 days after the budget year began. Centre Daily Times

When the World Health Organization announced that too much processed meat was bad for us, our state lawmakers decided that bacon needed a buddy. A resolution was cooked up in Springfield making it clear that politicians like pork.

“I’ve watched state representatives at different breakfasts. A lot have a piece of bacon in their hand,” said state Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville.

OK, simmer down and stop all that snickering out there. Too easy, but also too good to let it go — like bacon.

Which brings up the other white meat’s recent contribution to our state’s stalemate: Halted construction worth $700 million is costing us about $2 million to secure through the coming winter. Locally there is $64.5 million in partially-completed construction awaiting $23 million in stalled monies, including half of the new $6 million crime lab in Belleville and one-third of the $51 million Science Building renovation at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

We are at Illinois Held Hostage: Day 133 without a state budget. Besides winterization costs, taxpayers face a litany of manpower and material cost overruns that time and inertia will bring to these 218 projects.

Construction delays, pension payment delays, lottery prize delays, health insurance payment delays, drivers license notice delays and canceling Christmas decor at the state capitol all seem minor compared to Illinois’ $7 billion in past due bills and $111 billion in debt to its pension system. Yet the entrenched state leaders feel no pain — their paychecks are still rolling in — and thus they see no reason to change decades of behavior that led Moody’s to see Illinois as a bad risk and land us at the bottom of most economic recovery indicators.

It is the definition of insanity to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results: Improving Illinois’ business climate is key to stemming the exodus of jobs to neighbor states that creates an even greater tax burden for those left behind. Gov. Bruce Rauner wants reform that will grow revenue because he said Illinois cannot tax its way out of its hole.

Those who dug the hole are snickering, because they know they can just wait and eventually tax their way out. The issue they really need to tackle is how can they tax us when we become residents of Missouri and Indiana?

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