Guest Column: Republicans share blame for Illinois’ budget woes
By Victoria Grizzoffi
The hot topic lately is the budget. Everywhere I go, I hear how bad it is and a lot a blame going around. As I sit back and listen, I’m constantly reminded of the old saying of “the pot calling the kettle black.”
Five out of 50 states are not running in a deficit. They are: Alaska (R), Arizona (R), Hawaii (R), Montana (D) and North Dakota (R). It just doesn’t look good, does it? Our state budget and the country’s crisis started long ago. Let’s look back to around eight years ago when Blagojevich (D) came into office. Yes, he has been an embarrassment for Illinois, and we are now in a $13 billion and rising deficit. But he wasn’t alone down in Springfield. I found that back on June 7, 2008, the State GOP Convention in Decatur, Ill., adopted a new platform that included this provision:
“We call on the Governor and the General Assembly to balance the state budget and provide for a responsible capital development program without resorting to the expansion of gambling, which harms Illinois’ families and our state’s business climate and presents costly challenges for both law enforcement and social service agencies.”
HR 2651, a massive expansion of gambling, failed, but 17 Republicans voted “yes.” It makes sense if you receive $500 from Alton Gaming Company, $2,250 from Arlington International Racecourse, $500 from Casino Queen to your campaign. Then, there was the call for subsidized horse racing through riverboat casinos. What hurts me the most is the fact that I used to groom horses for a living and know more about the horse industry than people realize. I haven’t had a Chicago 606 ZIP code all of my life.
I’m all for people getting paid for the work and jobs that they do. It is quite common for many people to have a career for many years, retire, collect their pension, then go out, find some other work and collect another salary and possibly another pension. Power to the people, I say! But let’s not get greedy here, and do remember that Illinois isn’t by any means unique in this mess. For example, I don’t understand why, back in 2005, anyone voted against S.B. 0027, which would have limited end-of-career salary hikes for government school teachers and other government employees to 6 percent instead of the usual 20 percent. That would have reduced taxpayers’ contribution to state retirement funds by more than $1.1 billion yearly.
As much as I hear the grumblings of anti-Chicago sentiment, a Republican vote allowed Chicago Mayor Richard Daley (D) to double the telephone tax. S.B. 0837 gave Daley the ability to raise the tax from $1.25 to $2.50 per month for all customers back in 2007. Legislators voted to receive a 16 to 22 percent pay cut, but not one Republican voted for it. The list goes on and on, but let’s change the channel and move forward. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has had to make some really tough choices in cuts to human services, education, public health, all in the millions. Since he has been in office, he has made improvements. He saved the Ford plant from moving out and created 1,200 new jobs. Democrats are responsible for new laws regulating predatory lending, utility price hikes and nursing home reform, to name a few. This month, Quinn was able to get us $415 million for education. And let’s not forget that the Democrats were not afraid to call out one of their own, Rod Blagojevich (D).
No politician should ever be allowed to serve private interest over public interest, for self-interest.
Victoria Grizzoffi is the Democratic candidate for state representative in the 89th District and a resident of Galena, Ill.
From the Oct. 13-19, 2010 issue
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