Abernathy: Reckless fiscal behavior threatens state's future
With a backlog of bills potentially reaching $10 billion by the end of 2016 and nearly $170 billion in unfunded state pension liabilities, Illinois is facing a rocky financial future.
Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger echoed that concern and said the state needs to address its financial issues and available cash, as well as its funding stream.
Dawn Abernathy, the Republican candidate for state representative in House District 59, agrees with Munger and asks why it is acceptable that politicians are being paid while vital human services are in jeopardy.
“Why should the politicians in Springfield receive their checks before hospitals, nursing homes and schools?" Abernathy asked. "We need to help the truly needy in the state.”
Abernathy said leaders in Springfield need to carry out their elected duties instead of pointing fingers and bickering. The current spending and revenue equation doesn’t work, and neither does the stopgap budget, Abernathy said.
“The politicians need to do their job and stop complaining,” Abernathy said. “It is unacceptable that we are still spending more than we take in. How can anyone approve a stopgap budget that is unbalanced? (Abernathy's opponent, State Rep.) Carol Sente voted for this budget that will only increase the debt by $3 billion. Will we ever get out of this mess?”
Abernathy said the situation is compounded by the exodus of prime working-age adults ages 25 to 54 who are leaving Illinois to find better opportunities. Abernathy suggests fixing the economy and catering to businesses to retain these workers and bring back jobs.
“Illinois is in a world of hurt,” Abernathy said. “We must build our economy and bring manufacturing and corporate jobs back to Illinois. People want to live where they work. The prime working age is leaving Illinois for jobs. Every other state has recovered from the recession of 2008 (yet) Illinois is still losing. We need representatives that are able to be forward thinkers and bring the jobs back to Illinois.”
Millennials are exiting the state as these technologically conscious individuals find the state lacking in future prospects, Abernathy said.
“The millennials are looking to settle and raise a family,” Abernathy said. “They want an environment that is looking to the future. Technology and sustainability are so important to this large growing group of taxpayers. They want value for their money and aren’t relying on the old ways of doing things.”
Abernathy said the state needs to provide more opportunity for this generation. Illinois needs to invest in its future because millennials are constantly looking at the future.
“They live within a tech-rich, fast-moving life style,” Abernathy said. “They want a good education for their children and want to have the ease of everything. We need an infrastructure that is able to handle the needs of the future. We need to invest in structural technology, wireless Internet and transportation.”
Abernathy finds it objectionable that Illinois seems to disregard its future.
“With the debt we currently have, we are unable to invest in our future,” Abernathy said. "This is unacceptable. We need spending reform, commit to paying down the debt, and regulatory reforms to allow businesses to grow.”
Part of the debt Illinois faces is state pensions. A recent report concluded that taxpayers may have to contribute an extra $320 million to the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) in 2018 due to fund changes.
“The taxpayers of Illinois are unable to continue to handle the pension burden any longer,” Abernathy said. “We have responsibilities that have to be met, but moving forward, we have to move to self-managed accounts. The system is broken and beyond repair.”
Abernathy said she is calling for an end to what she said is extraneous spending and government pampering.
“We need to have smaller-government workers,” Abernathy said. “People collecting two and three pensions from the taxpayers are no longer sustainable. There has to be an end to the continued spewing of money from Springfield.”