SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) - Illinois politicians are going to have to level with the public that hard times are ahead, a leading lawmaker says.
Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) says politicians have made careers out of telling people good news and giving them gifts.
“We as elected officials over the years have talked about all the things we’re gonna do, and how we’re gonna help people, and how we’re gonna spend more money on this and spend more money on that, and we’ve gotta do this.
Well, we did that for way too long, and there’s an expectation from many of you [the public] that those are the types of speeches you’re gonna get, but we can’t do that. We’ve got some very, very,
very difficult times ahead of us,” he said.
Cross says the state must face its budget imbalance, tax situation and pension deficits, and it will not be pleasant, because nobody wants to talk about taking things away from people.
Cross says he and the House speaker have agreed not to raise the state budget over $33.2 billion this year, so if they decide there’s a desperate need for something somewhere, they’ll have to cut from somewhere else.
Tax revenue is exceeding budgetary expectations, but the state is a projected $8.2 billion behind on paying its bills and Medicaid claims, and has an immense pension deficit due to the state not paying its share into pension funds each year for decades.