Gov. J.B. Pritzker started his budget address on Wednesday with a passel of numbers meant to get our attention. During his first term, the state has eliminated a $17 billion backlog of unpaid bills, built a rainy day fund of $2.3 billion and repaid several billions of dollars worth of debt.
The list went on. Then Pritzker spoke a few words that were notable for what he didn’t say. “Fiscal responsibility isn’t easy, nor is it a one-time fix,” the governor said. “It’s an annual effort that requires persistence.”
Fiscal responsibility needs to be an annual discipline, true. But the state’s problems are bigger than that. A worst-in-the-nation credit rating, woefully underfunded pension system and structural budget imbalances call for something more strategic and far-reaching than can be accomplished through annual budget-making alone.
Fortunately for Pritzker, and for the state of Illinois, at least one serious strategic plan for Illinois’ finances has just freshly been done. It doesn’t have all the answers, to be sure, but it’s a worthy place to start
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