Illinois faces challenges

By Rebecca Bahr

Illinois faces a tough challenge this year as the nation moves toward recession and the state continues to mix priorities within, Doug Whitley, Illinois Taxpayers Federation, said at a meeting with the Young Democrats at NIU Friday .

“The challenge of the next Illinois Governor is to get control of our fiscal roller coaster,” Whitley said.

Illinois has not had a healthy budget for a long time, he said. Periods of tight spending have been followed by tax increases, followed by tight spending, followed by yet another tax increase in a never-ending deficit cycle.

In an introduction by Democratic State Sen. Patrick Welch, D-Peru, he stressed that the Taxpayers Federation gives no monetary support to candidates. “The Illinois Taxpayers Federation is a non-partisan, nonprofit, independent information source, whose primary purpose is to review the voting records of politicians, forecast spending, and estimate where the economy is going to go,” he said.

Calling the challenge a “Herculean task,” Whitley poked at priority lists in cities throughout Illinois. Whitley named state-funded civic centers as a chief example of unnecessary spending. DeKalb’s proposed civic center project was turned down by the state late this summer.

“We need politicians who aren’t afraid to say no,” Whitley said, “and to educate the public as to why it’s OK to say no to projects that the state simply cannot afford.”

Education needs the support of the state, he said. If the budget is not reprioritized this year Illinois may follow in the footsteps of its neighboring state, Kentucky, being sued for inadequate educaton funding.

It is the task of the citizens to elect representatives into office who aim to tackle the budget problem. “Voters must assume responsibility to learn and understand what the government is doing. Sometimes it’s a chore.”

Whitley said his best advice is never miss an opportunity to vote.