Public servants need to be mindful of budgetary conditions

Public servants need to be mindful of budgetary

THE ISSUE: Newly elected county officials recently took oath of office. State legislators to do so January 9.

OUR VIEW: All public servants need to be mindful of dire budgetary situation when making decisions.

Newly elected Macoupin County public officials took the oath of office recently and accepted another term of office. Our state legislators will do likewise on January 9. We congratulate them on their respective victories and wish them well as our public service providers. Their positions are both a privilege and a tremendous responsibility as to the important roles they provide.

Oftentimes public servants, such as our elected county officials, mistakenly believe they that have no control over the overall budget since they may not be a state legislator. However, their actions and careful fiscal responsibility of their own respective areas impact what the county needs to monetarily provide for its operation and this revenue is funded by taxpayers who expect and demand prudent fiscal responsibility.

Counties and cities and towns are all affected when the state budget is not adequately funded or does not pass a budget. Late payments, no payments, or payments that are sometimes taken back have become a reality in recent years that counties, cities, towns, and school districts have unfortunately had to learn to cope with. It takes time for the state to recover from going more than 700 days without a budget and a $7 billion dollar backlog of unpaid bills.

The state continues to and will be for a long time under financial pressure. It boasts the worst credit rating of all the states which ultimately makes the cost of borrowing money more expensive. We continue to lose major employers who seek tax relief from other states. Many residents also have had enough of the state’s shenanigans in terms of the budget and government corruption so have opted to or are considering moving. While it’s easy for state legislators to request more money from taxpayers or consider borrowing more money, such is not the fiscally responsible answer to our state’s problems.

The state’s pension system is yet another fiscal disaster as it is approximately 40 percent funded as opposed to the 90 percent that it should be. Fitch Ratings recently issued a new report that cites the state for its “lack of government fiscal policymaking over many years and is guilty of irresolute fiscal decision making.” Can there be a stronger reprimand? Unfortunately, Illinois’ net pension liability and other debts comprise 29 percent of the state’s personal income. This amount is higher than any other state. Government employees as well as many of the state’s teachers are all impacted in this regard. Many employees have voiced their fears that their pensions will not be available to them, despite having contributed to them throughout their careers.

We hope that all of our elected public officials will be mindful of the many ways that they can affect finances in their own respective areas and do so. Perhaps they could envision that their job is similar to what business owners must face on a daily basis: how to manage revenues and expenses while providing employee benefits without going into more debt than they can handle.