Dodge sees reforms as way to prevent Harvey-type crises
Jim Dodge thinks all affected parties need to be part of the effort to save the State of Illinois from having to deal with more financial crises like the one now forcing the City of Harvey to lay off many of its police and firefighters.
“Earlier this week, I attended the Civic Federation’s seminar 'Navigating Pension Reform in Illinois: What Lies Ahead,'” Dodge told the Prairie State Wire. “A wide range of ideas and past experiences with similar challenges in other states was presented. A perfect example is Arizona, which had very similar language in its state constitution as we do ours. They found a solution that worked for them and all affected parties were at the table – the legislature, the governor, the public sector unions, etc. We can find a way.”
But Dodge, an Orland Park Republican who ran unopposed in the GOP primary for state treasurer, knows solutions won’t come easily.
In Harvey, at least 30 police officers and firefighters were part of the layoffs, and CBS reported more pink slips could be coming.
City officials were moved to such desperate actions by a recent court decision requiring the city to make pension payments it can no longer afford and some insist haven’t been adequately made for more than a decade now.
“As a local elected official, I know local government needs more options to address our cost structures,” Dodge said. “The rules that drive up costs for local government are set in Springfield. Real people see those costs in high property tax bills but sometimes don’t make the connection back to the machine protecting itself. Right now, the government in Illinois costs too much, I heard that across the state, time and again. We have one of the highest total tax burdens in the country so clearly more taxes are not the solution.”
While Dodge concedes that Harvey and all its years of gross mismanagement is a unique situation, he added that in every instance across the state where the government finds itself in similar straits it all comes back to the need for the state to implement more reform measures.
“Reform is critical, but that reform has to find a solution to rapidly escalating future costs or it won’t work,” Dodge said. “Illinois’ bond rating is one notch above junk bond status. That hurts everyone and is absolutely a self-inflicted wound. Specifically – it costs more and more each day to finance our problems. Important programs aren’t funded properly because of ‘crowding out’ and the impact falls directly on families who are hit with more calls for more taxes. They never solve the underlying problems and government always seems to want more.”