Guest Column: Illinois is broken—let’s fix it!

By Joe Terrell

Shhh! Listen…  do you hear what I hear? That sound is a massive freight train bearing down on the people of Illinois. We are bound to the tracks, and we are in trouble. 2011 will be a year of massive change in Illinois—change for the worse.

This November, “We The People” stepped forward and said, “NO!” Springfield has failed to get the message.

On the freight train of destruction is the Illinois pension system. Estimates have the pension system between $70 billion and $90 billion in the red. If current state employees are going to receive the pension benefits they were promised, we must have common-sense pension reform—now. Additionally, new state employees must be transitioned to a 401(k) style plan that gives individuals control of their own future but with the incentive of tax-deferred growth.

The locomotive behind this destruction is a lack of fiscal responsibility and refusal to downsize state government. Illinois is insolvent. Financial obligations are greater than revenue. 2010 state revenue was $8 billion greater than 2009 revenue, but Illinois was unable to meet its financial obligations. Stifling tax burden is driving businesses (and jobs) out of state. The result is higher unemployment and lower tax revenue.

Unfortunately, Governor Quinn’s answer is more taxes and more spending. Illinois income tax will increase in 2011. It is still unclear whether it will be an across-the-board increase or a discriminatory, progressive increase. Nonetheless, it will be an increase.

Illinois is broken, but it is not unrepairable. The destruction will stop only when we say, “IT MUST STOP!” If Illinois is going to recover, the state must… (1) Downsize the state government. (2) Introduce meaningful reforms to the state pension system.(3) Lower taxes.

So, you may be asking, “What can I do?”

Never give up! Never accept anyone who says, “there is nothing anyone can do.” Resist going with the flow.

Then, get involved. Pick a single issue that really matters to you. Educate yourself. Stay informed and know as much about that issue as you can learn. Educate your friends and neighbors. Call your alderman, mayor, county board member, state representative, state senator, congressman and senators. Make sure they know you are watching what they are doing and that you expect results. You will find that you are not alone. You have allies.

“We The People” can save Illinois! Now, more than ever, we need you to step forward and lend us your voice.

Joe Terrell was the Republican candidate for Winnebago County Clerk in the last election. He is a member of the Rockford Tea Party Board and a member of the Winnebago County Republican Central Committee.

From the Dec. 29-Jan. 4, 2011 issue

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