GOP turns to paper to speak truth on power politics
The Illinois Republican Party turned to the Belleville News Democrat recently to illustrate some of its contentions regarding the new state budget.
The paper's editorial board pointed out flaws in the $36 billion budget, including the failure to enact any reforms, the $15 billion backlog of unpaid bills and the $130 billion state employee pension fund debt. While the state does have its first full budget after a two-year stalemate, the Legislature did not implement any changes to resolve the underlying fiscal problems that face the state.
The Democratic majority garnered enough votes to overturn Gov. Bruce Rauner's vetoes of the budget bills in a last-ditch effort to pass a budget for fiscal year 2018. The budget includes a permanent income tax increase that is expected to add $5 billion annually to the state's coffers.
As the editorial board pointed out, the $5 billion increase will do little to pay off the state's $145 billion in debt. It blamed House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) and his colleagues for passage of the "tax-and-spend" budget that it said does nothing to encourage job creators and residents to stay in Illinois.
The editorial board also expressed concerns about the state's credit rating. Moody's Investor Services had put Illinois on review on July 5 but determined that its rating would remain at Baa3 with a negative outlook on July 20. S&P had already rated Illinois at one step above junk status at BBB-minus, while Fitch Ratings left its rating two steps above junk at BBB.