From Americans for Prosperity, Illinois...
We're at the time in the legislative cycle when the Illinois General Assembly will engage in a flurry of activities that may produce bills the public and for that matter lawmakers have never seen, bills that may request spending of billions of our tax dollars, bills that can become laws in a blink of an eye. Next week brings along certain legislative deadlines for the reading and passage of "Substantive" bills.
This week, Tuesday bill actions included the placement of nine House appropriations bills on third reading in the Senate. All have been amended to appropriate taxpayer dollars for various purposes. Those in bold type are "shell bills," each waiting for another amendment. In short, a "shell bill," is a bill that is not intended to make a substantive change but which a sponsor files with the intent of amending. This shell is intended to carry an amendment providing funding.
Make no mistake, the stage is set for lawmakers to enhance revenues without the type of substantive reforms that would ensure long-term financial stability and fiscal accountability.
It's time for all of us to TAKE ACTION!
Send a letter to your lawmaker and governor Quinn today. Let them know "We don't need more taxes; we need more taxpayers with jobs"!
AFP-IL offers the following recommendations to lawmakers and the governor going forward:
Real Budget Reform - Illinois' budgetary system is broken. How can we solve the budget deficit when we really don't know the scope of the problem? We must stop the myriad of accounting tricks, non-transparent procedures and in some cases, a total subversion of the law in order to pass the state's budget. We must enact a "Fact Based" budgeting process that uses standard accounting procedures. To learn more visit the Institute for Truth In Accounting.
Develop a Long-Term, Free-Market Jobs Strategy - The state of Illinois has been killing the business community by a "thousand cuts." Increased taxes, overregulation, and burdensome mandates are causes that have made Illinois one of the country's least business friendly states thus, contributing to the high rate of unemployment and loss revenues.
Make Medicaid More Efficient - Medicaid spending has increased dramatically in the last seven years and grows at twice the rate of state revenues. This growth rate is unsustainable. Recommendations for efficiency gains include:
- Managed Care, which would cut down on unnecessary utilization and keep Medicaid patients from using our hospital emergency rooms as doctors' offices.
- Requiring stricter guidelines to prove income levels and requiring proof of residency status will help make sure that only those individuals who qualify for Medicaid are actually on the program.
- Enact a level of co-pay or cost sharing on those who are receiving coverage. Without a small disincentive to use health care services, it becomes a free, unlimited resource that invites huge amounts of waste.
Don't Use One-Time Revenue to pay for Ongoing Spending - Stop funding new base spending with one-time revenues. We should not use borrowed money (pension bonding), and fund sweeps to pay for ongoing programs. This practice expands the spending base, without expanding the revenue base and creates bigger problems in future years.
Greater Transparency in State Budgeting - The Seven Days of Sunshine Proposal which would require all budget bills to be on file, and available online for at least seven days before enactment. This would eliminate the last minute passage of huge budget bills that members are asked to vote on before they know everything that is in them.
Enhance current Pension Reforms - this year the General Assembly took a "first step" in reforming our pension system. Because the state pension benefits are constitutionally protected, most major reforms can only be applicable to future employees.
Here's what it the new law basically says about savings: "Early projections have pegged savings at more than $100 billion over the next 35 years. The state is 15 years into a 50-year plan to get the pension system up to 90 percent funding. That's why costs and savings are computed over 35 years. Key to making that plan work is to fully-fund the pension over the course of that 50-year plan. So far the state has failed in that effort.
If the state cannot fully-fund the current pension system, it has a choice:
- Reduce benefits for existing employees (a politically difficult proposition given the IL Constitution)
- Raise taxes
- Make smart cuts in other parts of the budget that would allow money to be freed up for the pension system.
An unfortunate choice, but the only choice that is politically viable and good for the long-term economic health of the state is choice number 3. Raising taxes would only strangle our already limited job and wealth growth. But making prudent budget cuts ensures a healthy Illinois for the long term.