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CHAMPAIGN - If you haven't heard the phrase "budget cuts" recently, then you don't live in Illinois. "We have a structural deficit that will not be fixed by cutting out essential services," said State Representative Carol Ammons. "We can not fix it by cutting D.H.S. services, senior services, youth services." She invited dozens to the Champaign Public Library on Monday, to discuss solutions to the state's budget deficit. "They need to know that there are some solutions that don't necessarily include cutting our well all the way down to the bones," said Ammons.
She brought, with her, an expert to the meeting to break it down: Ralph Martire, Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. "The driving policy has been tax policy; a tax policy designed for an early 1900's economy that simply just doesn't exist anymore," said Martire.
He pinpointed how the state is handling pensions. "Borrowing against what we owe the pensions, for instance, and using that revenue, instead, to fund services, he said." The crowd listened closely.
"We're repaying this debt to the pension systems, and that repayment is growing in leaps and bounds every year, and we simply just don't have the resources to maintain even a basic level of public services from one year to the next," he told them.
Representative Ammons believes that the current solutions to the state's fiscal challenges disenfranchise working-class families. That's her target audience as she takes these public meetings from city to city.