Illinois needs structural reforms

This year marks the 50th anniversary of AT&T Bell Labs making a substantial long-term investment in a research and development facility in Illinois - Bell Labs in Naperville.

That investment brought thousands of high paying engineering jobs to Illinois, changing the face of towns like Naperville, Winfield, Wheaton, Warrenville and Lisle. It also spawned the development of other high-tech companies along the I-88 corridor such as Tellabs and Molex. AT&T made this massive investment because, at that time, Illinois was the economic engine of the Midwest. That was then and this is now.

Today, Illinois lags far behind its neighbors in economic growth and has lost businesses to states like Indiana and Iowa. Illinois finds itself in a fiscal death spiral with deficits, long term liabilities and little economic growth. The most sustainable way to get Illinois out of this fiscal mess is to grow revenues with high paying private sector jobs like the ones AT&T brought to Illinois 50 years ago.

According to the comptroller's office, if Illinois sustained average economic growth from 2002 to today, there would be $19 billion in additional revenue. With that, Illinois would not be in a deficit, would have no unpaid bills and would have a budget surplus. This is why structural reforms are critical.

Instead of continuing down a path of high taxes and out-of-control spending, it's time to implement structural reforms that bring fiscal discipline to Springfield and makes Illinois attractive again to businesses. The reform proposals are hardly extreme as some Springfield politicians would suggest, but are actually in line with many states across the country that are now enjoying strong economic growth and fiscal stability.

I'm ready for Illinois to be the economic engine of the heartland once more. It's time.

Michael Connelly

State Senator - 21st District


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