Illinois lawmakers may not be able to agree on a budget, but legislative leaders and Gov. Rod Blagojevich apparently do agree on the need to spend more, more, more–even though the state is already spending record amounts on health care, education, and other programs. The disagreement is over how much more should be spent.
Over the past five years–between fiscal years 2002 and 2007–total revenue in Illinois has climbed $14 billion, or nearly 2.5 times the rate of inflation, according to the Illinois Taxpayer Education Foundation. And still the state owes billions of dollars in late payments to Medicaid providers and others. So the problem is not too little revenue. It is too much spending.
Until the governor and legislative leaders admit this–and look for ways to empower people instead of grow government–budget showdowns will recur, and citizens will suffer because they and their employers will be left with less money to use as they see fit.
Steve Stanek ([email protected]) is a research fellow for The Heartland Institute.