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End the destructive Illinois budget impasse

Dragging out stalemate costs taxpayers

1237 People have acted

backgrounder

Refusing to budge from principal in a months-long, Democrat versus Republican budget standoff is crushing too many Illinoisans. Small business owners, families who rely on child care aid and college aid, the state's seniors, sick, disabled and most vulnerable others all are feeling the impact of this budget stalemate.

Having lived through the Great Recession, we start from the premise that every Illinois agency and group that gets tax dollars should be able to find some things to live without. Indeed, many been forced to do just that for too long. However, belt-tightening has progressed to a stranglehold for too many taxpayers, job creators, colleges and the state's social safety net.  

Ironically, while the budget impasse continues, Illinois continues to spend far more than it takes in, driving up debt taxpayers must pay. 

Current and future taxpayers already must pay for $111 billion in pension debt and an estimated $9.03 billion in unpaid bills.

Solving this catastrophe will require compromise, reduced spending and more tax revenue. It will require state workers, administration officials and legislators to work together in good faith. In short, it will require governing.

We believe Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is right to expect property tax relief and some workers' comp insurance changes and other changes that will improve Illinois' economy. Continuing the same policies of the past four decades will only produce more debt. House Speaker Michael Madigan should compromise on those topics. Likewise, we believe Rauner should shelve the majority of his union demands and address union issues in a more measured manner. Everyone in Springfield should be focused on constitutional pension reform.

We should have spent the past year in public debate over how to improve Illinois' economy. Instead taxpayers are the victims in a political power struggle. It's got to stop.

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