Republican state senators should sell the proposal they have

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According to a Chicago Tribune report the other day Republican state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine said that –

– “the GOP’s Senate minority should consider coming up with its own alternative to Democratic Gov.Pat Quinn‘s spending plan if it wants to be able to legitimately argue that state government doesn’t need a tax increase.”

It’s a nice idea but it’s not necessary. Murphy is quoted telling the Trib’s editorial board this:

“I will be honest. I have suggested that (an alternative budget) be done. I don’t know if we’re going to get there or not.”

“I know we started with $3.4 billion (in cuts) and that’s $3.4 billion more than I’ve seen anybody else suggest be cut. There’s no Democrat in the legislature who has put forth any meaningful cut.”

Conservatives have known all along that there are Republicans in the General Assembly that have little or no problem with a lot of the spending increases over the past many years. If they had, we would have heard of their objections.

We also know that many Republicans in the G.A. don’t mind “finding new revenues,” whether through tax or fee increases or through expanded gambling. The archives of this website include many examples.

What Matt and his colleagues proposed a few weeks ago is enough to take on the circuit. I praised what they put forward here, and said that it was time to sell sell sell.

We were hoping that by now – during the second week of the G.A.’s spring break – we would have seen news coverage of town hall meetings and press conferences and other public forums held by Republican legislators for the purpose of generating news and other coverage on the web about their ideas.

Instead these elected officials still aren’t exercising their public relations muscles. We know they have them since they all managed to get themselves elected (and often reelected repeatedly). They now need to stretch and get in motion and work to reach the people of Illinois with the outlines of what they’ve already presented here (summary found here).

Sure, a full detailed budget would be ideal, but when the summary of a state budget runs into the hundreds of pages, the bang for the informational buck won’t necessarily follow. What Illinois voters need to be made aware of are the broad strokes – and the Republicans have done a sufficient job of showing how they could balance the budget without raising taxes.

Too bad almost nobody knows about it.

Here is a short list of recommended initiatives noted in the senate Republicans’ report:

  • Raising the cap on charter schools.
  • Limiting new education mandates.
  • Medicaid Reforms – including managed care, stricter eligibility standards, and vendor management.
  • Pension reforms – including a two-tiered system.
  • Spending limits that restrict growth of state government.
  • Capital infrastructure program – without a tax increase.
  • More Government Transparency and Accountability.

The report included this paragraph:

“The Republican members of the Committee believe these are the ideas and initiatives that must first be evaluated before Illinois taxpayers are asked to pay for the continuation of failed fiscal policies. Tax increases are not the answer. We believe the people of Illinois need meaningful government reforms – not just fiscal reforms – but widespread reforms in how the State conducts its business and spends taxpayer dollars.”

And this:

“How Do We Avoid Being in This Situation Again?

Much of the testimony presented to the Committee made another principle clear: if Illinois is to return to prosperity, it will be through economic growth and job creation, not by taxing our employers and our workers. We need to stimulate this economy, to make our business climate competitive and create jobs.”

That’s a great message not enough Illinoisans are hearing. If our 22 state senators want to draft a budget, fine. But whatever they propose will have to be sold. The job of selling good policies never ends. The bad news is that the selling hasn’t yet begun.

One more additional note. Murphy’s initiative in this one area is laudable. Unfortunately, Matt is one of the state senators who voted against SB600, the important party-reform legislation that will make it possible for new leaders to rise up in the Illinois Republican Party.

An invigorated Party would do wonders to assist in spreading word of an alternative Republican budget, especially if that proposal runs into the hundreds of pages, igniting the ire of countless taxeating interest groups.

©2009 John F. Biver

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