State Sens. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) and Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) each reacted separately to Gov. Pat Quinn's March 6 budget address, but the theme is pretty much the same: too much spending and not enough leadership.
Oberweis pointed out "the extreme problems caused by years of offering too many pension sweeteners without meeting state funding obligations."
“He knows the importance of reforming that system; however, he has not demonstrated the leadership needed to solve this problem,” Oberweis said.
The 25th District senator said he is willing to work in a bipartisan manner to address Illinois’ budget crisis, but Quinn and Democrat legislative leaders first need to start working together.
“Not only do the Democrats have control of the governorship, they have super majorities in both the House and the Senate. The governor must work with his leaders — with Mike Madigan and John Cullerton — to fix this problem,” Oberweis said. “And if they can’t come to an agreement, then it is time to let the rest of us come to the table with our ideas."
And those ideas are?
“Following private industry’s lead, government pensions must move to a defined contribution plan from the current defined benefit plan system, which has gotten us into so much trouble,” he said. “The Illinois Policy Institute has just proposed such a plan. Their plan is the best solution to our unfunded liability that I have seen.”
McConnaughay said the governor’s budget shows record-high state General Revenue Fund spending at $35.6 billion dollars, which includes an increase of $1.2 billion in spending.
“We were promised when they passed the temporary 67 percent income tax increase in 2011, that they would cut spending, reduce the pension liability and decrease the bill backlog," she said. “Since then, we have seen increases in spending, our backlog of bills and our deficit—and don’t forget about the multiple credit rating downgrades, making it increasingly costly to borrow money.”
Quinn called on the General Assembly to put a bill before him to sign, but McConnaughay said what he needs to do is identify opportunities to build consensus in both chambers.
"This is an all hands-on-deck effort that starts at the top," she said. "Leadership is sorely needed in this state and until we have that Illinois will continue on this unsustainable path.”
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