Several issues are coming to a head as we enter the final few days of legislative session. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at my new email address: pamela@pamelaalthoff.net.

Lawmakers weighing pros, cons of ComEd deal

This week, utility giant ComEd offered to give the State of Illinois $500 million to deal with the budget deficit. The catch? In exchange, the company wants guaranteed utility rate hikes in the coming years.

While I give ComEd an A+ for creativity with this proposal, I will not be supporting it. I see it as just another way to tax consumers at a time they can afford it the least. Taking even more money out of the pockets of our families and taxpayers struggling through these tough economic times is the wrong approach.

Work continues on pension reforms

Like state government, local governments across the state have seen their budgets strained as more and more tax dollars go to public employee pensions. This year, I teamed up with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to reform our municipalities’ pension systems, with an emphasis on fire and police pensions.

Work continues on this very important issue because it’s essential we relieve the financial burden municipalities are facing – to restore fiscal stability and to ensure the priorities of all taxpayers are taken care of. As someone who comes from a family with four generations of firefighters, it’s also important to protect our police and firefighters – who put their lives on the line every day to ensure our safety.

Budget vote expected later this week

The good news is it appears Illinois will soon have a budget. The bad news is what will likely be in the budget itself.

Instead of reversing the irresponsible spending we’ve seen in recent years, the proposed budget is more of the same – more borrowing we can’t afford, more one-time revenue schemes, more pension raids, and more pushing off today’s problems onto the taxpayers of tomorrow.

At this point, it appears the budget will actually increase spending by $1.6 billion over last year, despite the worst budget deficit our state has ever seen. It also hinges on $6 billion in additional borrowing and leaves the budget about $7 billion out of balance.

There is only one word I have for this type of budget: Unacceptable. It’s time for lawmakers to stay in Springfield for as long as necessary to pass a responsible budget that makes the tough decisions today, rather than kicking them down the road, and into the laps of our children and grandchildren.

 

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