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Hynes: State needs to cut back government to '05 levels
by Harry Hitzeman | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/29/2009 12:04 AM

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If Illinois is going to balance its budget, leaders need to cut back state government to 2005 staffing levels.

Corporate loopholes must be shut, political hires by disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich need to be fired and a $1 per pack cigarette tax must be enacted.

And in November 2010 voters need to approve a change from the flat 3 percent income tax to a progressive income tax that would kick in for people earning more than $200,000 year.

These were some steps for eliminating a potential $10.5 billion budget deficit State Comptroller Dan Hynes laid out Monday during a visit to the Rotary Club of Elgin.

"These cuts have to happen. We have to take action," said Hynes, who last week declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor. "If we do not deal with this problem and deal with it head on immediately, we will not be able to make progress on anything."

Audience members seemed responsive to Hynes' quasi-populist message.

"We've got to start by looking at waste. How do you expect to build support among the people if you don't?" said Keith Farnham, state representative for the 43rd District, which includes Elgin.

Sue Moylan, a Gail Board Public Library trustee and former Rotary president, said the fact that Hynes put out a detailed plan well before the primary gives voters a chance to compare it to those of other candidates, Democrats and Republicans alike.

"It sounds like it's been well thought out," Moylan said. "The need for fiscal prudence is so important right now."

The club has not shied away from inviting speakers in the news, even for controversial reasons.

In May, the club hosted Bill Ayers, a University of Illinois-Chicago professor and 1960s radical who drew attention during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Two notable upcoming speakers are a little less divisive than Ayers:

Mark Vargas, who spent two years working with the U.S. Department of Defense to create jobs in Iraq, and Matthew A. Ackerman, president of the Boy Scouts of America's Three Fires Council. They will speak on Oct. 12 and Oct. 26, respectively.

For more information, visit rotaryclubofelgin.org.