March 10, Gov. Pat Quinn unveiled his budget proposal for fiscal year 2011. He told us how he plans to attack the state’s $13 billion fiscal deficit, and while $13 billion is a huge number, a deficit is only the money currently due, it does not reflect the total amount owed.
Currently, the total amount of money the state of Illinois owes others, including unfunded liabilities such as pensions, is more than $98 billion—a truly staggering number. It represents approximately $7,590 owed by every man, woman and child living in the state. The governor’s solution, of course, is simply more of the same fiscal insanity!
His proposal outlines borrowing $5 billion more and enacting an additional income tax hike of 33 percent on Illinois’ already-beleaguered citizens. The tax hike, he says, is to avoid $2 billion in spending cuts, much of which would come at the expense of our Illinois public schools. As we all should know by now, a standard political ploy is to threaten education. That always gets everyone’s attention. But how wise is his plan when Illinois is currently rated second only to California’s looming insolvency?
Our problems have been exacerbated by numerous non-standard accounting practices crafted by our legislators to conceal how much is really being spent. As a Certified Public Accountant and Controller, I am appalled by some of the methods used to hide the truth from the people who are ultimately expected to pay the bills. As the next Illinois Comptroller, I will work to change those practices, bringing them more in line with accounting practices that work very well in the private sector.
If we are to prevent Illinois’ financial ruin, we must dramatically change the way things are done in the Statehouse. More borrowing, taxing and spending will only indenture our children for many more years to come. Legislators need to stop their unchecked spending immediately. Private-sector accounting practices must be put in place to keep the politicians in check, and the activities of all state agencies must be made public. Additionally, and unfortunately, deep cuts will also have to be made across the board if Illinois is to survive. The kind of debt we are now carrying is just not sustainable.
If things continue as they have in Springfield, they will only get worse. The governor’s plan only gives us more of the same.
Libertarian Candidate for Illinois Comptroller
West Dundee, Ill.
From the April 14-20, 2010 issue