The latest downgrade of our state's credit rating is more than another humiliating blow to Illinois' national reputation; it is a move that will further punish localities like DuPage County despite our frugal budgeting and stellar triple-A bond rating.
The “Illinois effect” is essentially guilt by association. Prudent public bodies such as DuPage County are required to pay additional basis points on any borrowing to compensate for an irresolute political climate and a deteriorating fiscal condition at the state level.
It is a frustrating set of circumstances—particularly when we make tough budget decisions to save tax dollars and then we waste those saved funds to pay for higher borrowing costs simply because we are located in Illinois.
In DuPage County, we've cut the budget by more than $13 million over the past two years, to $432.6 million in 2013, trimmed costly employee benefits and reformed several independent taxing bodies in an effort to yield greater savings for our taxpayers. Although these actions were met with some resistance, they were necessary to bolster the sustainability of DuPage County. The same difficult choices must be made at the state level if we are to have any hope of restoring our state's reputation and regaining the economic vitality we once enjoyed.
In working with Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago-area legislators, I've made clear this is not simply a Springfield problem; it is an Illinois problem. To the extent we all can contribute to an immediate solution, we must do so. All Illinoisans are paying for legislative inaction and, in some instances, fleeing our state for better opportunities. We do not have another day—or dollar—to waste.