A View From the Cheap Seats

March 16, 2010

Fixing Illinois

EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – MARCH 10, 2010

By Rich Trzupek

The “Party of NoTM” unveiled a few badly-needed common sense solutions to fix what ails one of the worst state economies in the nation, which, given the state of the nation’s economy in 2010, is saying a lot.

House Republicans, in conjunction with the Illinois Policy Institute, announced a proposed program that, while it can’t fix everything that ails the state, is at least a good start. Among the features of the plan:

– Holding the line on spending, which has increased by more than thirty nine per cent over the last decade (adjusted for inflation) while Illinois population has increased by less than seven per cent. Clearly, the days of the big-spenders in Springfield are drawing to a close. We can’t afford their largesse any longer.

– Reforming the state’s regulatory structure. Once one of the most business-friendly states in the union, Illinois has become one of the most difficult places to start up and maintain a business, owing to all of the regulatory impediments introduced during the Blagojevich years.

– Requiring a supermajority before any tax and fee increases can be passed in the General Assembly. Past history has shown that Illinois citizens can not trust either party if that party has been comfortably in power for too long. This measure would ensure that the loyal opposition has the ability to rein in the entrenched power structure.

– Curbing the power of the Rules Committee. Speaker Mike Madigan has, for a very long time now, used the Rules Committee to bury any bill he doesn’t like or that he believes runs contrary to his party’s best interests. Under the GOP proposal, any bill that has at least one third of the house as co-sponsors would have to come up for a vote, no matter how badly somebody like Madigan might want to kill it.

State Senator Chris Lauzen went even farther, taking on some of the state’s most troubling issues head on, political correctness be damned:

– Lauzen correctly noted that “…one out of every two babies born in Illinois are now paid by taxpayers and we still have no citizenship requirement for routine healthcare for illegal immigrants, often provided in the most expensive emergency rooms.”This ridiculous, untenable state of affairs was created by Blago’s pie-in-the-sky dreams and fully supported by his Democrat allies in the General Assembly. The result has been a Medicaid program that runs farther and farther behind in paying its bills, which makes health care all the worse for everyone. It’s time for Illinois to control our health care spending.

– Rather than using federal “stimulus” money for “shovel ready” make work projects, Lauzen suggests that Illinois be allowed to use some or all of those funds to address the state’s crippling budget. On its face, that proposal makes sense. Unless someone can prove that investing federal money elsewhere can generate more jobs and revenue for Illinois, using stimulus dollars to get our economy in order seems like a good idea.

– It’s time to reform the state pension program. There is no way on God’s green earth that the state of Illinois can continue to promise and pay incredibly expensive pensions to everyone who works for the state, and – hoping to return to the blessed sanity of the Edgar years – nobody should be allowed to rob pension funds to pay for other programs. The state pension structure, along with Medicaid, represents two huge albatrosses hanging around the neck of Illinois taxpayers.

Contrast that to the neat side-step that Senator Mike Noland executed last week. Asked about the budget crises that even he can no longer ignore, Noland promptly, and predictably, tried to push off the blame into the laps of the party that hasn’t had an ounce of power in Springfield for the last eight years, claiming that it was the GOP who created the problem.

“So these roosters have been coming home to roost for a long time,” Noland said. “This is not something that happened just over the last seven or eight years like [Republicans] would like you to believe.”

Nice of you to finally notice the budget crisis Mike. But, how to reconcile that incredible statement with the Mike Noland of 2006? At that time, Noland was engaged in a campaign with Streamwood Village President Billie Roth. Roth, who has earned a reputation as a fiscal guru, made the state budget her biggest campaign issue, warning again and again that Illinois’ economy was heading for disaster. The 2006 version of Mike Noland dismissed Roth’s warnings as pish-posh, declaring that Illinois budget was “balanced.”

Noland’s opponent in the 2010 state senate race, Steve Rauschenberger, was an even more vocal critic of what was happening in Springfield. When Blago, with the full contrivance of a compliant Democrat General Assembly, began raiding the state’s pension funds in 2002, Rauschenberger made the rounds, clearly explaining how the Democrat’s plans were unsupportable and how they would inevitably result in the kind of crisis that we find ourselves in today.

In 2006, as in 2010, it’s pretty clear that Noland merely parrots the talking points that his Democrat handlers feed him, hoping that no one will notice the absurd inconsistencies in his rapidly-evolving positions. As many Senators from both parties privately admit, Noland is one of the most embarrassing and most roundly-disliked legislators in Springfield.

It’s time for a change in Springfield. Having been out of power for so long, Illinois Republicans are anxious to get back in the game. After eight years of Democrat-inspired foolishness and irresponsibility, it’s time they were given another chance. The Ryan years are long gone and the most bitter taste in the mouths of Illinois voters can be traced back to Governor Big Hair. Here’s hoping that the Illinois GOP continues to develop solutions that actually make sense for Illinois.

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