Illinois is in a fiscal meltdown that continues to spiral out of control. We began the year with $4 billion in leftover unpaid bills, and we are likely to end the year with nearly $6 billion. This financial mess could have been avoided if reasonable spending and regulatory reforms had been put into place a year ago.
The Illinois Policy Institute has outlined a series of reforms focused on bringing jobs, responsible spending, and accountable government back to Illinois. The Economic Reform Agenda addresses some of the root causes of Illinois’s financial problems, and consists of six common-sense reforms:
- Appoint Members to the Sunshine Commission – The Sunshine Commission, an independent commission of residents and business leaders who will make specific recommendations to consolidate or eliminate duplicative or ineffective programs, was created by Executive Order in 2009—and yet not one member has been appointed to the Commission.
- Spending Reform – State spending has risen 39 percent over the past decade, while the population increased by 6.8 percent. This proposal will control government spending with common-sense reforms.
- Regulatory Reform – Illinois currently ranks third to last in economic performance, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. Regulatory hurdles create a hostile environment for businesses looking to start or expand in Illinois. HB 5802 would call for a comprehensive review of job-killing regulations.
- Supermajority Vote for Tax and Fee Increases – HRJCA 28 requires a three-fifths supermajority vote on any legislation that would raise taxes or fees on Illinois families or businesses.
- Budget Transparency – This legislation would give the public seven days to review the budget online before it is voted upon in the House and Senate, thereby providing additional time for the media and public to review and provide input.
- Legislative Openness – This bill would require that any piece of legislation that is co-sponsored by one-third of all members of the full chamber be automatically scheduled for a floor vote in accordance with the calendar.
Why This Works
Illinois has a spending problem, not a revenue problem—and its current way of doing business is unsustainable. This six-point agenda includes nonpartisan, common-sense proposals to help spur job creation, inject transparency into the budget process, create more openness to the legislative process, implement reasonable guidelines to control spending, provide for a top-to-bottom review to eliminate duplicative and wasteful spending, and require a supermajority to raise taxes.
These reforms alone will not solve our fiscal mess, but they are important first steps. Illinois needs better government accountability and policies that address the concerns of families, small businesses, and taxpayers. Without true government reform, businesses will not thrive, families will continue to leave Illinois, and the state’s poor and disadvantaged will not get the help they need. The Economic Reform agenda offers proactive, sensible first steps to addressing our state’s problems and getting Illinois back on track.
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