The Illinois Roadmap — a choice of two futures

It would be a welcome development in advance of this fall’s election for our state Republican candidates to draft a plan for turning Illinois around. Voters should be given the opportunity not just to vote against Democrats and the status quo — but also for a positive plan based on the Illinois GOP Platform principles.

An introduction to such a document might read like this:

A Choice of Two Futures

Rarely before have the alternatives facing Illinois been so starkly defined. For the past several years, leaders in our state capitol have taken an already unsustainable budget outlook and made it far worse.

They have exploited Illinois’ genuine economic anxieties to justify an unrelenting and wide-ranging expansion of government. Their agenda has included, among other things, wasteful spending, over-promising of pensions and benefits to state employee unions, mismanagement of Medicaid, and a failed, debt-financed budget.

Their approach has brought taxes, rules, and mandates; generates excessive levels of spending, deficits, and debt; leads to economic stagnation and declining standards of living; and fosters a culture in which self-reliance is a vice and dependency a virtue — and as a result, the entire state weakens from within.

Increasingly, Illinoisans are rejecting this approach, and for good reason. But the status quo is not acceptable either. Our state government’s current fiscal path is unsustainable: it leads to unprecedented levels of spending and debt that will overwhelm the budget, smother the economy, weaken our state’s competitiveness in the 21st century global economy, and threaten the survival of the state government’s ability to tackle its core functions.

The Governor and the General Assembly Majority are only hastening Illinois’ march toward this reckoning, adding to tens of billions of dollars worth of unfunded liabilities, and accelerating the erosion of our state’s fiscal stability. Their “progressivism” ironically points backwards — to a future in which Illinois best century is the past century.

The above is the Introduction to Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap for America’s Future” with some alterations to fit our state. We won’t see such a plan here in Illinois unless our Republican candidates agree to commit to principle — something most GOP incumbents haven’t been able to muster for a very long time. Leaders is needed to focus the minds of voters to make a choice.

Winning isn’t enough — because a weak victory will only lead to a muddled compromise that will not bode well for over-burdened taxpayers and businesses.

To get that mandate, our GOP candidates need to run a plan that includes some specifics for how they’ll govern. It’s not enough to say “we’re not them (the Democrats).” Republicans might win anyway, but they will not follow through on what they’re not committed to.