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Times are tough for Illinois.  This state faces many difficult issues and no single issue is of greater importance than putting our fiscal house in order.  Unless we are on a firm financial footing, Illinois can not possibly hope to be able to provide its citizens with necessary services.  This is why I believe that we need to get our budget under control.

Underfunded pension obligations are the main fiscal challenge confronting our state.  Given the circumstances, it would be negligent to stand idle and do nothing to reform these systems.  At the beginning of the year, we had the ‘temporary’ tax increase, which has not provided the budget relief that was promised by the Democrat leadership with its passage.  That increase is covering the ever-increasing pension obligations instead of reducing the deficit, and those pension obligations are crowding out human services, transportation and education ever-more.  An idea has been floated to shift pension costs onto suburban and downstate school districts in order to fund the system, but I am absolutely against such a proposal.  Shifting the cost would not address the root of the problem, which is the skyrocketing costs of the current system, and it would put the school districts in financial jeopardy.  New proposals continue to materialize and the legislature is currently reviewing options for pension reform.  It is my sincere hope that discussions do continue in an open and transparent way until we have a meaningful reform solution to our massive underfunded pension obligations.

I also believe that working to promote a better business climate in Illinois is a fundamental part of building a strong and prosperous state.  A better business climate is one that is fair to employers and leads to the creation of jobs for Illinois citizens.  Building a better business climate will not only encourage businesses already located in Illinois to expand and grow, but will also attract new business and create new opportunities.  In the 2012 legislative session, we passed business-friendly legislation that extends the life of Enterprise Zones and creates 10 new zones.  Since their creation in 1992, Enterprise Zones have added more than 900,000 jobs to our state economy and now they will continue to do so.  It is one of the few areas of economic policy that Illinois government has gotten right in recent years.  I have always been and will always be a proponent of improving Illinois' business and job climate.

Tough action needs to be taken in order to revive Illinois.  The state is broke, financially and culturally.  It is time to stop the vicious cycle of taxing and spending and borrowing, and borrowing again.  Living within our means is tough, but necessary.  I look forward to confronting this issue in the legislative session and working to bring Illinois' budget woes to rest.

I am always glad to hear from the people I represent.  Please contact me with any questions, concerns, or opinions you would like to express.  Please send me an email at pamela@pamelaalthoff.net.