Sheet of US one hundred dollar bills, elevated view


By Bob Balgemann


The General Assembly has taken a first step by approving a temporary budget. State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, said that includes a full year of funding for K-12 education and money to keep various state departments going until January 2017.

After that, from the Boone County legislator’s viewpoint, “a permanent solution will have to reverse a course Illinois has been on for a long time. Decades of mismanagement have sent this state into a tailspin and it’s up to correct our course.”

He said Forbes Managing ranks Illinois 38th among 50 for business. An Illinois resident moves out of state every 10 minutes.

Jobs are not plentiful, taxes are too high, and the state needs to have a variety of reforms.

To make matters worse, past governors and legislatures expanded the pension system that does not work. Too much money is being funneled toward benefits, rather than improving the state.

Sosnowski said Gov. Bruce Rauner is suggesting policy changes that would bring Illinois from 38th to the middle of the pack when it comes to being a good place for business.

There are several options for pension reform that would not be subject to court approval. Among them are increased penalties for pension-spiking and elimination of double-dipping.

Property tax relief is being proposed.

Continue workers compensation reform. Indiana’s costs are 50 percent less than in Illinois. He summed up the result of not pressing forward by saying, “When businesses have a choice, it is clear why they choose somewhere other than Illinois. This isn’t a race to the bottom. It’s about making common sense workers compensation reforms to bring Illinois to the middle of the pack to protect injured workers, improve job growth, and business development.”

Now that a budget is in hand, Sosnowski said, “The legislature needs to build on our bipartisan movement and continue to negotiate in good faith. We can make Illinois competitive again without drastic changes.”

Speaking of the budget, another Boone County lawmaker, state Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Sycamore, credited an irate citizenry with passage of at least a partial budget.

“The pressure for a full-year budget has been building since July 2015,” he said. “However, I believe it was the prospects of many schools and universities (none in Boone) not opening this fall and, at the same time, that legislators were campaigning for election that forced political leaders to finally allow a budget compromise.”

He termed the budget a “bridge to January” 2017 and pointed out this is the second fiscal year that Illinois has failed to adopt a 12-month budget. He said Illinois “is the only state since the Great Depression to fail twice in this constitutional duty.”

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