Illinois needs a spending cap

Posted5/26/2018 1:00 AM

With the legislature about to conclude, it doesn't seem like lawmakers are going to agree on a balanced budget.

The starting point for any balanced budget is knowing how much the state can afford. But since 2014, Illinois lawmakers have created budgets without a dependable revenue estimate. For the last several years, the General Assembly's revenue estimates have differed from the governor's revenue estimates. Unreliable estimates that come in below actual revenues contribute to Illinois' backlog of bills.


Things cannot go on like this. Illinois should adopt a spending cap so it can keep its spending in line with what Illinoisans can afford. Fortunately, a plan with bipartisan support exists in both the House and Senate. If Illinois lawmakers adopt the spending cap in the 2019 budget, they could grow spending by 2.4 percent for a general operating budget of $36.9 billion, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.

Going forward, this spending cap resolves the lack of consensus by providing an explicit number on which to base future spending plans.

The plan uses "smart growth" to tie government spending to growth in Illinois' economy. Smart growth assures Illinoisans that they're getting a state government they can afford. Moreover, the Illinois General Assembly would provide a basic level of certainty about the long-term growth of state government, and thus ward off future tax hikes. Illinois could once again become an attractive destination for families and businesses.

Putting a cap on state spending offers an attractive solution in Illinois where government spending has grown 25 percent faster than personal incomes. Illinois has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

I'm tired of seeing my tax dollars wasted, and I don't want another tax hike. I'm not alone.

Connie Cain


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