To The Herald-Whig:
Illinois has gone almost two years without a budget, and yet many say that the budget crisis hasn't affected them. But it has.
School districts in Illinois are owed over a billion dollars for the school year that has just ended. When will they get their money? Will they be able to open in the fall?
Our local hospitals are owed millions of dollars from the state; that certainly is impacting their budget decisions.
Due to the eight credit downgrades in the past two years, we will be paying higher interest rates on state bonds.
We are now one level above junk bond status. This means there will be less money to spend on projects, services or to pay down our debt.
Higher education has been ravaged. Tens of thousands of students have gone out of state to school rather than go to Illinois' underfunded universities.
Many or most of those students will not come back to Illinois. Those students could have been part of Illinois' future.
We will pay a billion dollars of interest on our almost $15 billion-and-counting in unpaid bills. That billion dollars could be used for infrastructure, MAP grants for students, paid to social service agencies, fund higher education or pay down our debt.
Yes, the lack of a budget is impacting many Illinois citizens.
If you have children in public schools or attending our universities, you are affected. If you use any of our health care services, you are affected. If your family members are in nursing homes paid for by Medicaid, you are affected. We will be recovering from this mismanagement for years.
Our local lawmakers, the legislative leaders in Springfield and the governor need to negotiate the best deal they can and approve a budget this month.
There is going to be a tax increase; it's inevitable. There will also need to be cuts that will be painful.
At this point, any budget is better than what we are doing now. Contact your local representatives and urge them to find the will to sign on to the doable rather than sit on the sidelines. Let's not make perfection the enemy of the good. We need a budget now.