Wilhour praises Ives for 'sounding the alarm' on seriousness of state's financial woes
Blaine Wilhour admires Rep. Jeanne Ives' (R-Wheaton) dutifulness to office.
“I am glad Rep. Ives is sounding this alarm,” Wilhour told the East Central Reporter of Ives recently introducing the Local Government Bankruptcy Neutral Evaluation Act as a way of authorizing “a local public entity to initiate a neutral evaluation process if that entity is unable to meet its financial obligations.”
“It is a conversation that needs to be had,” Wilhour added. "We need to educate people on the serious nature of our situation. Standing pat and perpetuating the status quo is not an option. If we don’t address this soon, it is going to be too late for many and people are going to suffer.”
Ives’ introduction of House Bill 5644 comes on the heels of the City of Harvey having its tax revenues garnished due to growing pension liabilities. By Ives estimation, at least 20 other cities find themselves in similar straits and could soon face the same fate without an immediate financial restructuring.
In every case, she adds most of the distress has been caused by rising pension obligations. Harvey alone is reported to be tens of millions of dollars in debt in unfunded pension payments.
“We need to send serious people to Springfield that are not beholden to all the special interests,” Wilhour, a Beecher City Republican running for representative in the 107th District, said. “We are in a terrible situation; and because of generations of political failures, the fixes won’t be easy. It is going to take courageous, solutions-oriented people to save this state and that is what I plan to be.”
Wilhour said he believes governments should only be allowed to file for bankruptcy as a last resort, adding he thinks by-and-large lawmakers have the necessary tools at their disposal to address the situation without having to take on such drastic measures.
“The mere threat of bankruptcy would stimulate real conversions on solutions,” Wilhour said. “The first step on pensions is to not accumulate additional debt by moving new hires to a defined contribution setup that will be pay-as-you-go. We spend and promise too much. That is why we are in this situation. We will not be able to move out of our terrible economic situation without serious pro-growth reforms that encourage job creators to invest in our state.”
Anything short of that, Wilhour predicts could yield even more disastrous consequences.
“We are heading toward a total financial collapse if these issues are not addressed,” he said. “We are going to get to a place where all of our budget is consumed by pensions and mandatory spending.”
Wilhour added only the right kind of solution will have the kind of effect so many are now so desperately seeking.
“The Democrats and special interests think we can fix these problems by raising taxes,” he said. “You will see an aggressive push for the progressive tax. Also, local boards will have no other options but to increase property taxes yet again. We already pay among the highest property taxes in the country. These are not solutions and will only hasten our decline.”