“The months-long war between Illinois’ political bosses has gotten taxpayers nowhere, in fact, it’s making things worse. Just last week, one of Illinois’ most respected social service providers announced statewide layoffs and the elimination of critical resources for those in need. Every day this crisis continues, these essential elements of our human service infrastructure crumble away, our pension systems lumber along without necessary reforms, and taxpayers are burdened with another $33 million in new debt while our pile of unpaid bills quickly approaches $9 billion. We deserve better.”
“More than just a test drive for election-year messages, the State of the State needs to be an opportunity for real reflection on where Illinois is and how it got here, because in that recognition is an opportunity for a fresh start. All sides need to come back to the table, leaving their preconditions at the door — whether that’s some Democrats’ default opposition to necessary budget cuts or the governor’s non-budgetary agenda — and focus exclusively on dollars and cents.
“When legislators and the governor can put aside the destructive delusion that it’s acceptable for real people to suffer as long as the other side of the aisle takes the blame, we can find a lot of common ground. We can fix our pension systems by taking common-sense steps that protect what retirees have earned while ensuring taxpayers aren’t on the hook for exorbitant costs. We can reduce fraud and waste in the Medicaid system that costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and takes resources from those in real need. We can rein in out-of-control property taxes that are forcing homeowners and small businesses out of Illinois. We can recognize that middle-class families, seniors living on fixed incomes and small employers can’t afford a tax increase, but multibillion-dollar corporations can get by without special tax breaks. We can rebuild Illinois into the state our citizens deserve.
“The work that must be done can only be completed in Springfield, with all legislators and the governor present and ready to talk. I’ve called on the governor to bring the Legislature into special session for around-the-clock budget negotiations. I am willing to lead those discussions. This is no time to listen to a speech and leave town. The governor and legislative leaders should lock the General Assembly down and we should stay in Springfield and pass a balanced budget. This is a time to do the work of the people and to end the petty partisan bickering that is causing real hardship to our citizens.”