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GOP presents its case for reform
Daily Herald Editorial Board
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Published: 7/17/2008 12:08 AM

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Illinois House Republicans are saying the right things on what the state must do to honor its commitments to the public to be ethically and fiscally responsible in managing tax dollars and providing services.

The question is if a public that is disgusted with the state of affairs in Springfield will warm to these reforms. And, in turn, to the state Republicans proposing them. In that regard, there is not an item on the Republicans' agenda that the public should have trouble embracing.

House Republicans vow to fight for stronger anti-corruption measures - including supportt for an end to the pay-to-play scheming in which those who contribute to campaigns get the benefit of state contracts. Certainly the public is weary of seeing the wretched consequences of such in full display in federal corruption trials. It is satisfying to see the crooks nabbed and imprisoned. But better to have it all stopped before it lands on the desks of federal prosecutors.

The public should be pleased that House Republicans are hitting hard at the Democrats' penchant for expanding state government without a means of paying for it. The most recent and best evidence of this is the budget passed by a Democratic-controlled legislature, that by some Republican estimates is close to $3 billion out of balance. A continuation of such reckless disregard for fiscal discipline is going to hurt taxpayers for generations to come. House Republicans say they won't let that happen.

They also say they will ease the tax burden by offering more tax property relief. They also want to require that proposed state budgets be made available for public scrutiny. This way, taxpayers have a say in how much money should be spent before a vote is taken that leaves them no choice.

The Republicans' agenda goes beyond dollars and cents and ethical use of them. They support programs that taxpayers truly need the state to provide, such as a construction program to repair battered roads and bridges. They want to make higher education more affordable.

But if Republicans aren't having much luck getting their platform endorsed in the legislative chambers, where their power is diluted by their minority party status, they are hoping to make a good impression in the public arena. They are presenting their "Agenda for Action" in town hall meetings. One was held in Arlington Heights on Tuesday night.

The public should care about what Republicans are saying. Of course, Republicans have to back up their agenda by their own actions. These agendas come and go. And it sure wouldn't hurt if they were able to run a candidate for governor on a reform platform who would actually present voters with a real choice and a competitive race.

Voters would do well to end business-as-usual balloting by supporting those who are genuinely committed to reform. Republicans vow to offer such. For that matter, so should Democrats.