Budget draws differing views

By Eric Krol

Local candidates for the state legislature expressed differing views on Gov. Jim Edgar’s budget proposal.

Edgar proposed an austere budget for next year during a speech before the General Assembly last week. The budget includes cuts to several state agencies including public aid.

The spirit of Edgar’s budget was that government cannot be all things for all people. However, John Nelson, local Democratic state senate candidate, said his analysis of the situation is “that the crowd down in Springfield is out of touch.” Simply slashing the budget is not “a courageous way to run the government,” he added.

Mark Ludden, a Democrat running for the state house, said Edgar is doing double talk. “If government cannot be all things, then the majority of the people should be served, not disserved,” Ludden said. There has been a louder outcry of dissatisfaction than satisfaction, he added.

Dave Wirsing, Ludden’s Republican opponent, said he supported Edgar’s message. Wirsing said the deficit is a strong indication that the state is spending beyond its means and there isn’t a whole lot of money around.

Edgar’s budget also calls for stagnant funding of higher education, with state support remaining at this year’s level. Wirsing said given this year’s parameters, there is simply no extra money. “The governor supports education and that’s encouraging to me,” he said. “It could’ve been cut by 1 or 2 percent.”

Ludden said the state should set up a long-term plan for higher education and come up with more than a crisis management solution.

The budget message also created a committee to examine the structure of higher education. Nelson said he has already come out in favor of a separate governing board, but added, “I would hazard a bet that the governor could refer to already existing reports (instead of creating new ones).”

“I think it’s time for change,” Wirsing said. “Being a lifelong DeKalb area resident, NIU’s growth doesn’t fit the current parameters.”

Ludden, an NIU alumnus, said he is in favor of NIU’s autonomy but is concerned that current efforts by Rep. Brad Burzynski, R-Sycamore, are “no more than grandstanding.”

Wirsing and Nelson both said they felt higher education would

He spared the legislature’s budget ax when the budget negotiations kick into high gear.

All three said they don’t think the budget process will be dragged out past the June 30 deadline like it was last year.