Caulkins ready for hard work required to fix Illinois' financial issues
Dan Caulkins knows the fight he has vowed to wage won’t be an easy battle.
“It is very disappointing that it’s come to this and that we have allowed the political ruling class in Springfield to bring us this low,” Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. “Rescuing Illinois from this financial abyss is going to a be very daunting task. These guys in Springfield have made our job more than it difficult.”
A new Moody’s Investors Service report details that unfunded pension liability rose by 25 percent last fiscal year to $250 billion overall. That leaves Illinois with the highest pension-debt-to-revenue ratio in the country, according to researchers.
“I think this news screams out for a return to the basics, to having a resolve in both chambers of Congress that we are not going to spend more than we take in any longer,” said Caulkins, running against Democrat Jennifer McMillin in the 101st House District. “We can’t afford any more gimmicks, any more counting on pension reforms giving us more money. The only number we should be concerned with is on the actual revenue side.”
Illinois Policy Institute reports both Moody’s and S&P Global Ratings have previously put the state’s bond rating just above junk status, with the state's actual credit rating having been downgraded 21 times over the last nine years.
Much of the blame for the ongoing dysfunction traces back to longtime House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), Caulkins said.
“It doesn’t seem that Madigan and his people have gotten the message about how serious this is,” he said. “How can you pretend every year like you’ve balanced the budget?”
Still, Caulkins remains convinced Illinois can rebound, though he admits it will take hard work and plenty of time for the state to get back to where it needs to be.
“I can’t allow myself to think any other way,” Caulkins said. “I’m ready to go to work, though I tell everyone we’re going to have to work together to get this right and it isn’t something that’s going to come overnight.”
The 101st House District spans parts of Champaign, DeWitt, Macon, McLean and Piatt counties.