The stopgap budget for 2016 expired Dec. 31, 2016. That 6-month spending plan pushed our state, the “least creditworthy in the nation,” further into debt and decay. The uniformed public continually calls out, “just pass a budget already.”
That kind of thinking is why Illinois will spend a record $40 billion this year, a new high! Spending is breaking records, and we fall further behind why?
Our state’s priorities are out of whack. There’s more than enough spending growth from 2000 to 2015. Revenues have increased 57 percent, but during that same period spending on Medicaid increased 141 percent. Spending on state employee insurance increased 166 percent, and spending on their pension benefits increased 586 percent!
The motto for this Democrat-controlled legislature is “give them what they want” and let the uninformed taxpayers pay for it! Pension costs alone now consume a quarter of the state budget, suffocating spending on core services such as higher education, human services and public safety. For every dollar spent on higher education, half goes to pension costs.
Illinois’ system of higher learning is no longer a ladder to the middle class for students. It’s a retirement program for those it employs. Between 2004 and 2010 the student population grew less than 3 percent, but the number of university administrators grew more that 30 percent. Illinois lost 150,000 university students from 2000 to 2014! How’s that for access to higher education? Until we get a two-party balanced rule in this state we will continue to decline!
Garland Horn, Granite City