The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 1, 2010

Black voices concerns about state’s finances

DANVILLE — “If the state were a business, we’d have to declare bankruptcy.”

State Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, delivered his blunt assessment on the current condition of Illinois’ financial state during a meeting last week with members of the Commercial-News’ editorial board and reporting staff.

“No one is focusing on the problem,” Black said. “It is a statewide fiscal crisis we have not seen since the Great Depression.”

Black, a veteran of more than two decades in the Illinois House who will retire at the end of his current term, pointed out a statistic from Chicago’s Center for Tax and Budget Accountability that shows the state will begin its next fiscal year more than $12 billion in the red.

The pinch is beginning to reach into many state and local services.

Danville District 118 School Superintendent Mark Denman recently talked about the potential for layoffs unless the state begins to meet its financial commitments, His concerns have been echoed by other area school superintendents, as well as Dan-ville Area Community College officials.

The Vermilion County Health Department already has made cuts, with more on the way if its financial status remains the same.

Efforts to resolve the problems have not spurred legislative leaders to act. Black said he thought they all were waiting until after Tuesday’s primary election before they decided on a course of action.

“We need to make an honest effort at cutting every non-essential cost we have,” Black said. “We can’t go to the voters (with a tax increase) until we do.”

He said lawmakers should look at all of the state’s services, from the number of aircraft it operates to consolidating offices to the wages personnel receive.

Black cited a recent article in Crain’s Chicago Business that showed the state’s tax revenue down almost $1 billion for the current fiscal year.

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