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Will IL Voters Equate Budget Mess with Ballot Choices?

February 1, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - On Election Day eve, human services advocates are making last-minute pleas to Illinois voters about the state budget. The group Voices for Illinois Children wants people to consider the cuts that have already been made to programs and services when deciding how to vote Tuesday.

The group's director of government relations, Sean Noble, says the estimated $13 billion deficit in next year's budget is proof that more cuts are not the solution.

"This fiscal year we've cut $1 billion from the state budget and it's having the effect of harming education, health care, human services and a number of other important priorities. Next year we would have to cut 12 times that amount in order to solve our budget problems through cuts alone."

Both Governor Pat Quinn and his strongest opponent, State Comptroller Dan Hynes, have agreed that increased taxes are the only way to get the Illinois budget back into balance. Of the seven Republican gubernatorial candidates, former attorney general Jim Ryan is the only one who did not sign a no-tax-hike pledge, although he says he is opposed to an increase. Senator Kirk Dillard says state fees may need to be "adjusted," while former state GOP chairman Andy McKenna is opposed to both fee and tax hikes.

Sean Noble of Voices for Illinois Childrenwarns that another round of budget cuts could have devastating effects on people who already are struggling. He hopes voters will use their ballots as a means of showing lawmakers the impact of their decisions.

"It's important for legislators to see that their decisions have very human consequences, for good or for bad, and right now it's too often for bad. "

Voices for Illinois Children has launched an online campaign to put faces on the social service cuts. People can share photos and explain how they are personally being affected by the cuts. The group is also planning a February 17 rally in Springfield.

Information on the "We Can't Wait" campaign is online at abetterillinois.com


Aricka Flowers, Public News Service - IL