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Kirk says state and local government are drowning Illinois residents in debt

Chicago Sun Times

Wednesday, Oct 12, 2011

Sen. Mark Kirk issued a report on Illinois' economy Tuesday he termed "A Call to Action."

Dividing state, city and county debt for every family in Chicago, the average family owes $78,000, he said.

"You owe twice as much as citizens in Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri," the freshman Republican senator said.

The state's debt and delinquent payments are having a trickle-down effect to Illinois towns, counties and other bodies that are getting their state money late, Kirk and his team of experts working on the report said.

"If Illinois was a business, its auditors would say it is insolvent," said Henry Feinberg, who wrote the report. "Illinois is in a European-style debt spiral, borrowing and raising taxes to cover deficits that arise when businesses aren't growing, and taxpayers are moving to other states ... It is as if we are paying off a mortgage with a credit card."

While Kirk added his voice to the multitudes of those complaining that Illinois' finances are bad, his prescriptions for cure were limited.

He urged bipartisan pension reform to cut the state's pension obligations, which the state has already done for some new hires. And beyond that he urged less spending, though he did not specify what kind of spending at the state, county or municipal level should be cut.

While Kirk's report said business and people are leaving Illinois for neighboring states, Gov. Quinn has said that some businesses are moving employees back from neighboring states to Illinois.


By: Abdon M. Pallasch

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