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State Rep William Black to Dems in legislature: Dems must stop spending!

State Representative William Black (R-- Danville)

On April 22, 2010, I reprinted a comment written by state representative Jack D. Franks regarding the need to stop spending in Illinois. State Representative William B. Black (R-Danville) responded to rep. Franks in today’s Chicago Tribune.

That rebuttal, entitled “Less posturing needed to solve budget crisis” is provided below. Representative Black’s pertinent stats are provided on his Illinois government webpage, provided here:

http://www.ilga.gov/house/Rep.asp?MemberID=894

Less posturing needed to solve budget crisis

I read with incredulity the recent Tribune op-ed by my colleague, Rep. Jack D. Franks, which laid out a simple solution to Illinois’ budget crisis — just say no to spending. I agree wholeheartedly with his suggestion. However, I believe my Democratic friend left out a few details.

We are facing a $13 billion budget deficit and owe our health care providers, social service agencies and schools nearly $6 billion. In my district, the Vermilion County Health Department has been forced to cut half of its workforce and slash programs because the state owes it more than $500,000. Most every community-based service provider in my district has cut services and laid off personnel.

How did we get to this point? Since 2003, when the Democrats took control of state government, general fund spending has increased by more than $4 billion. The state’s bonded debt has tripled to more than $18 billion. Because of health care expansion under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Illinois’ Medicaid costs have more than doubled to $10 billion, consuming one-third of the state’s budget.

Over the past two years, House Republicans have offered numerous budget reform measures to cut waste and fundamentally change the way we spend taxpayer money. From Pay as You Go to Medicaid and welfare reform, our budget ideas have been shot down by the Democrats who control the House.

I have repeatedly asked my colleagues why we have yet to spend one minute on the House floor discussing how we’re going to dig ourselves out of this budget hole. I have made motion after motion to discharge Republican budget reform bills from the House Rules Committee so that they may be voted upon by the Illinois House. And every single time, Franks has sided with House Speaker Michael Madigan to keep our bills from even being debated by the House. Franks’ record stands in sharp contrast to his words. For example:

• Rep. Franks voted three times against our PAYGO proposal, which would require any legislation with a fiscal impact to identify cuts within the budget or new revenue to offset the spending increase.

• He twice voted against a balanced budget declaration.

• He twice voted against our tax amnesty plan, which would generate more than $100 million.

• He voted against an Appropriations Sunshine Act, which would require a seven-day review period before any budget vote.

• He voted against a three-fifths supermajority requirement for any tax increase.

• He voted against Medicaid income verification.

And Rep. Franks voted against my proposal to sell the state fleet of executive aircraft.

Let me say that I don’t take Rep. Franks’ votes personally. I continue to hold out hope that Democrats and Republicans will work together to get our fiscal house in order.

But some legislators sound insincere when they say that we have to cut spending and then vote against a repeal of Blagojevich’s free mass transit rides for seniors program. House Bill 4654 would require means testing to keep the free-rides program for seniors on fixed incomes while saving the state millions of dollars.

We must get spending under control before we consider asking taxpayers for more of their hard-earned money. As Rep. Franks said, “We won’t get out of trouble unless Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois legislators have the courage to put a stop to the unchecked spending that got us where we are today.”

To that I will add that we need more action and less political posturing to solve our budget crisis. The people of Illinois want solutions, not empty rhetoric.

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