When Fitch Ratings downgraded Illinois' credit rating, it was effectively downgrading Gov. Pat Quinn and the Democrats, as well. Remember, Democrats control all branches of state government. Their failure to lead and deal with this clear and present crisis is as infuriating to me as it should be to every Illinois taxpayer.
When I served as Gov. Jim Edgar's chief of staff, we made the tough but fair choices. We learned to say "no." We lived within our means. By Edgar's second term, the state's credit rating actually went up. That's right Illinois' credit rating improved! That's a far cry from the nearly dozen credit downgrades Illinois received under Quinn and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, also a Democrat.
I voted for Speaker Michael Madigan's pension plan. It wasn't perfect, but it was the best plan at the time. Unfortunately, the powerful sway of the unions was too much for my Democrat colleagues. As a result, Illinois taxpayers are on the hook for another $17 million dollars each, and every day the crisis remains unresolved. That's money we cannot use for education and other necessary programs.
Today spending is out of control. We have new and expanded Medicaid programs under Obamacare. We're failing to pay for needed improvements to our roads and bridges, and our backlog of unpaid bills continues to grow. You can almost hear the suitcases closing as businesses consider packing up and moving out of Illinois. Other employers are thinking twice about relocating here. Who can blame them?
The spring legislative session may be over, but our work certainly isn't. Let's get our priorities straight. Let's fix this pension problem now so we can make Illinois work again.
State Sen. Kirk Dillard