Former Gov. Jim Edgar Says Budget Stalemate Will Hurt Illinois For Years

Dec 12, 2016

Illinois' economy will suffer for years because of the ongoing budget stalemate.

That's according to a man who was once responsible for leading Illinois -- former Governor Jim Edgar. 

"The damage is ... the worst damage I've seen. I mean even the bad years of Blagojevich and the image he gave of Illinois, I don't think has done anything as much damage as we've seen."

 Edgar, a Republican, made the statement on the Illinois Public Media show "The 21st."

He says there are huge, long-term consequences of students choosing to attend out-of-state universities. And Illinois businesses are threatened by the government instability.

Edgar sees no way for the state to emerge out of it with cuts alone.

"You're going to have to increase revenues. Maybe you don't restore the income tax completely back to where it was before, but I think that's the quickest way you can get revenue into the system."

Another revenue option is adding a sales tax to services.  Something Edgar says he favors in theory, but which would take more time to fill state coffers.

That's not to say a tax hike will be enough to do the trick either.

"There's going to have to be cuts, and those cuts are going to have to be somewhat severe."

Though he's a Republican, Edgar says he disagrees with GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner putting issues like term limits and workers compensation before a budget.

But, Gov. Rauner remains insistent on reforms with a new budget deal.

"Every reform that we're pushing has strong bipartisan support, that's why I'm optimistic in the end that members of the democratic caucus in the general assembly will come around and vote for some of these reforms."
Rauner says freezing property taxes and placing term limits on elected officials are quote- "easy votes."

Democrats have said the governor shouldn't tie his political reforms to the budget process.

The current budget expires at the end of the month.