Last year's state budget was a failure. Despite a record tax increase, the bill backlog skyrocketed and Illinois' credit rating plummeted.
This afternoon, a budget framework passed the Illinois House with bipartisan support. Unfortunately, it adopts an overall spending target that is still far too high. What is good about the budget is that it acknowledges the overwhelming burden of Illinois' unsustainable Medicaid program and takes steps to slow the growth of the unpaid doctor bills. But it fails to show signs of reducing state pension costs and appears to leave other opportunities for savings off the table.
Ultimately, this budget framework is only sustainable in future years through more tax increases. But that's not what Illinois needs, so that's why the Illinois Policy Institute was in committee this morning to register our opposition to a spending plan that is still too large.
So how can Illinois move forward? The Institute has outlined a $7 billion plan to turn around the state in our recent Budget Solutions 2013. Our budget plan:
- repeals the 2011 tax hike
- reduces the backlog of bills without borrowing
- allows the state to meet its pension liabilities
Most importantly, our approach puts taxpayers first, restrains spending and puts Illinois back on the path to fiscal solvency. Others in Springfield, including Senate Republicans, have also put forth budget recommendations that sunset the tax hike as promised. Real solutions exist to right-size this budget.
The ruling majority wants to protect the favor factory and overspending that's become Illinois' legacy over past decades. The status quo favors special interests in failed programs while destroying Illinois' business climate. There are politicians in Springfield who want an even bigger budget than the one that is being discussed. But do not be fooled: Those discussions may make the House resolution appear moderate, but in fact Illinois needs a far smaller budget than the one currently under consideration. Illinois needs a budget that focuses on tax relief, better results and job creation.
Read our analysis of the House budget resolution, which includes a comparison to Gov. Quinn's plan and Budget Solutions 2013.
You decide which is the best path forward: more debt and spending, or fiscal responsibility and tax relief.