As Gov. Pat Quinn marches out one potential budget-cutting proposal after another, it’s becoming increasingly clear that he has no comprehensive plan to tackle the state’s dire fiscal situation.
Instead, what we’re seeing is a series of trial balloons being sent aloft to gauge the level of public resistance. If the outcry is sufficient, he moves on to another target.
Take, for example, the proposed cuts in the Illinois Department of Human Services that would’ve slashed funding for drug and alcohol treatment services. Where would that leave those fighting addictions when those programs are summarily eliminated? Or the plan to abolish the regional offices of education. All kinds of questions arise about who would provide the state-mandated training and programming now delivered by the regional offices. Or the proposal to force school consolidations to eliminate nearly two-thirds of the state’s school districts – going from 868 to 300. Such a plan is fraught with logistical and philosophical problems, sacrificing local control and close-to-home schools for a “bigger is always better” model.
Without a doubt, serious cuts are required to make a dent in the state’s mammoth deficit. But not the way Quinn is going about it.
What we need is an across-the-board approach that spreads the pain as broadly as possible, but doesn’t gut worthy programs entirely. Taxpayers can understand that approach. Quinn’s cherry-picking, random plan just doesn’t ring true as a thoughtful and fair road map to get us out of the fiscal mess that we’re in.