Lawmakers in the Illinois Senate are getting closer to a deal to end the budget impasse, according to State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford), but he adds that there are a number of key issues that need to be addressed before finalizing any budget.
“We are trying to deal with significant systemic problems that have been building for decades, issues that accelerated under the runaway spending of Governors Blagojevich and Quinn. There are no easy solutions, and more importantly, there are no painless solutions,” said Senator Syverson.
Syverson noted that a final solution needs to accomplish three things: work towards balancing the budget, improve the job climate, and stop the out migration of people from Illinois.
“The first step in reaching a balanced budget is you must stop new spending until you can pay for the current spending. In the last 60 days, Democrats in the Senate have proposed $1.8 billion in new spending. Over $300 million of new spending was passed out of the Senate this week alone. Tough adult decisions have to be made, which include making cuts in spending and reforming programs. After those two difficult steps, we can look at raising revenue temporarily to close the gap until our economy grows strong enough. Cuts and reforms must take place first. The public will not buy another Pat Quinn ‘temporary increase to pay bills’ lie. Improving our jobs climate and growing high-paying jobs must be our continued focus. That is the only way we can grow our way out of our economic problems,” said Syverson.
Workers compensation reform has been much of the focus in terms of improving the jobs climate, by making Illinois more attractive to businesses. Employers often cite the state’s extremely high workers compensation costs, which are the highest in the Midwest and the 7th highest in the nation, as one the biggest obstacles to job creation and expansion. In addition, estimates place the cost of workers compensation for state and local governments at nearly $1 billion per year.
“Right now our state has made it far too difficult to add jobs, and if we aren’t adding jobs, our economy can’t grow,” said Senator Syverson. “We need reasonable reforms and guidelines to keep workers comp rates in check or we won’t be able to grow the good-paying jobs that we so desperately need.”
Illinois has been one of the nation’s biggest losers in terms of population growth. In just 2016, the state lost a total of 114,000 people. They are not all heading south for warmer weather, either. A recent study noted that Illinois lost 329,000 people, on net, to its surrounding states over the last decade. Syverson said he believes that in addition to improving job growth, the governor's proposed property tax freeze would have a huge impact on helping families here in Illinois.
Syverson added that he looks forward to continuing negotiations on a budget package that addresses these areas but notes that Democrats will need to be willing to work with Republicans for anything significant to move forward.
“These things all go hand-in-hand. A balanced budget reduces the need for sky-high taxes, more jobs will create more revenue, and reducing costs for residents will keep them here, earning and spending money,” said Senator Syverson. “Years of Democrat control proved that we can’t tax our way out of this. We have to grow our economy. We have to do this right and we need willing negotiating partners to make this happen.”