Keep your promise, IL policy group tells lawmakers

By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — When Illinois lawmakers return to the Capitol in late April they will begin, in earnest, work on a new state budget.

SPEND LESS: The Illinois Policy Institute’s budget solutions all revolve around spending less.

But the Illinois Policy Institute fully expects the General Assembly to ignore that group’s budget solutions.

“It’s a budget solution, a road map forward for lawmakers to keep their promise to us,” said Kristina Rasmussen, vice president for the Illinois Policy Institute.

Rasmussen is referring to the 2011 temporary tax increase, which lawmakers promised to roll back next year.

Gov. Pat Quinn has said he has to make that tax permanent to avoid cuts in state spending.

Illinois lawmakers are talking about doomsday budgets — if they only have $34.2 billion to spend. GOP lawmakers say with the 2011 tax increase extended, state spending could grow to almost $38 billion.

“In order to meet that (2011) promise they need to start balancing their budget, get back on the right track, do the right thing,” Rasmussen added.

The Policy Institute’s budget solution lays out a dozen areas in which the state could trim spending.

Rasmussen said billions of dollars in savings can be found by streamlining Illinois’ Medicaid program, by raising the retirement age for public workers and by pushing across-the-board spending cuts of just less than 5 percent.

Quinn has told his state agencies to prepare for 20 percent cuts if lawmakers do not extend the 2011 tax increase.

The Legislature has until the last day of May to produce a budget.

Contact Ben Yount at Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org or find him on Twitter @benyount.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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