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Civic Group Says Illinois Needs Spending Limits, Higher Taxes To Help Restore Finances

Flickr user Jim Bowen / "Illinois State Capitol" (CC BY 2.0)

The Civic Federation of Chicago has laid out a map to lead Illinois out of the fiscal abyss.

The non-partisan government research organization says Illinois’ biggest problem is state government’s failure to pass a budget for going on two years.

Laurence Msall, executive director of the Civic Federation, says the state needs a combination of spending limits and higher taxes to begin slowly restoring its finances.

“We could agree or disagree about what the components of the budget would be and whether it would be good or bad,” he said. "But not having a budget has proven to be the most expensive experiment any state has ever entered into.”

Msall says part of the problem is that legislators and Gov. Bruce Rauner have removed pressure points that usually help force a budget agreement. They’ve approved money so schools could open and supported court orders that make sure state workers are paid to stay on the job.

The Civic Federation says there’s no way Illinois can undo the damage of the budget stalemate without “a lot of pain for everyone involved."

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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