Jesiel: State Must Acknowledge Past Failures to Come Together on Balanced Budget

A letter to the editor by State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor)
We are days away from the end of the spring legislative session. We cannot allow another session to end without a budget. Illinois’ social service providers, our schools, our universities, and our job creators are suffering and need the certainty of a balanced budget.

Throughout this process, I have argued that we must change direction in crafting a truly balanced budget. We cannot pass an unfunded, loosely organized budget that repeats the mistakes of the past that have led to billions of dollars in debt and unfunded pension liabilities of $130 billion that equate to 10 percent of the entire nation’s pension debt.

How can we say that we care about schools, but refuse to overhaul a funding formula that sees Illinois contribute the least of any state to local schools, leaving our children’s futures overly reliant on severely stressed property taxpayers? This is what the old way has given us and we must change course, so we can provide quality service in a way that improves education and stops the rot of skyrocketing taxes that drive families and job creators out of Illinois. We can change this; we can stop the flow of businesses, seniors, families and college graduates out of Illinois by acknowledging the failures of the past and striving to come together.

Let me be clear, I cannot and will not support a spending plan that increases the crushing tax burden on Illinois families and does not reform our state. We cannot perpetuate this debilitating plague on our state.

Springfield is known for getting a lot accomplished in a short amount of time when the will to work together is stronger than the will to control. It is my hope that my Democratic colleagues will come together with Republicans to craft a truly bipartisan, balanced budget that is built on compromise.

If we can come together, we can find the solutions needed to serve our most vulnerable, fund higher education and pay our bills. We can agree on reasonable changes to bring solvency to our pension system. We can provide property tax relief and lower the cost of doing business in Illinois to bring jobs back. Time has not run out, we can do this and I will strive to achieve this end each and every day.

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