It was good to see Republican state senate leader Frank Watson’s letter in today’s Daily Herald. Readers familiar with this website know we’re constantly calling on our elected officials to stop acting as clerks and start engaging the public in a serious manner. A letter to the editor can serve as a start.
While it’s easy to take issue with some of the content of the letter, overall it’s pretty good. Here it is in its published form:
Little wonder that Illinoisans are upset
In the Illinois state capital, the notion that change will come in 2008 was just soundly rejected on the floor of the Senate. The state is in its fifth year of Democrat control of the legislature and governor’s office. On their watch, the state is broken and state government is in disarray.
Yet this past week, Illinois Senate Democrats ignored the budget-deficit of their own making and again demonstrated their commitment to borrow, tax and spend.
In lockstep with Rod Blagojevich, Democrats advanced a three-part plan to raid more than a half-billion dollars from special state funds, expand taxpayer-subsidized health care and spend another $678 million in the current fiscal year.
Republican members of the Senate vehemently opposed the plan to give Blagojevich new extraordinary power to unilaterally raid $530 million from the special state funds which pay for highway repairs, retired teachers’ health insurance, open space grants and downstate public transportation.
At a time when the state owes a record $2 billion in unpaid bills, Senate Republicans opposed spending another $300 million a year to expand the taxpayer-subsidized Medicaid plans to cover those who earn more than $85,000 per year.
We voted “no” when the Senate Democrats nearly doubled the budget hole for the current fiscal year with pork barrel spending and pet projects that cost taxpayers another $678 million.
Despite their spending frenzy, this Democrat-controlled government ignores the potholes, cuts funds for critical agriculture and conservation programs, threatens schools, underfunds colleges and universities, racks up unpaid bills and jeopardizes our state’s economy.
It is no wonder Illinois taxpayers are fed up with Gov. Blagojevich and his allies in the legislature.
State Senate Republican Leader
We agree with Frank that the problem is the tendency to “borrow, tax and spend.” We’ve advocated for setting priorities and providing serious oversight of existing programs to stem that borrow, tax and spend tide.
We agree with his criticism of raiding special funds and expanding taxpayer-funded subsidized health care programs. We agree with his point regarding $678 million in pork spending.
We disagree on a few of his points, such as the idea that schools are threatened or that our colleges and universities are underfunded. Both K-12 and higher ed in Illinois resemble a 300 pound individual who is being forced to accept a smaller daily food intake.
But we do agree that Illinoisans are fed up. We just don’t think they’re being offered a credible alternative. Without an alternative, Illinois voters have demonstrated the bad habit of sticking with the failed status quo.
In a year when Barack Obama might lead the Democratic ticket, we hope to see Republicans aggressively offer such an alternative soon.