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Changing the short-term budgeting mindset

Throughout the budget reform process, Senate Republicans have held firm to the fact that the General Assembly must stop repeating the mistakes of the past and that it makes no sense for Democrat leaders to keep passing the same types of budgets over and over again, and expecting different results.

As Senate Republicans and the Governor’s office try to work toward a budget agreement, it’s become clear that breaking through the culture of short-term planning and wasteful spending continues to be one of the greatest challenges. Lawmakers say they want a balanced budget, yet there is either a failure to understand the serious challenges facing this state, or there is simply an unwillingness to make the difficult decisions needed to put Illinois on the path to long-term stability.

Despite the increasingly bleak budget outlook and endless negotiations about spending cuts versus revenue increases, there have been a number of proposals introduced that spend even more money—in fact, it’s projected that almost $2 billion in new spending has been introduced in the Senate this spring.

For example, the Senate recently debated a proposal that not only would have forced Illinois taxpayers to pay for political campaigns, but would have cost taxpayers, minimally, $12 million each year, with the potential to reach $50 million annually. Fortunately, this measure failed to advance out of the Senate. However, this is an excellent example of the entrenched culture of waste and lost economic growth opportunities that have, sadly, become the norm in Springfield.

In the Senate, were are working on forward-looking, comprehensive, long-term solutions to the state’s budget impasse, as opposed to the House Democrats who put forth another stopgap budget based on the same tax-and-spend principles at the basis of Illinois fiscal mess.

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