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Illinois Needs to Take the Salmon Out of Its Budget Grocery Cart

05/05/2015 01:22 pm ET | Updated May 05, 2016

Illinois government is like the grocery shopper at the checkout with an overflowing cart and a nearly empty wallet. Something's gotta go back onto the shelves.

Madeleine Doubek of Reboot Illinois says maybe the salmon should be the first to go:

You just finished the family shopping at the grocery store. The clerk rings you up. You spent way more than what was in the budget and you really have to buy the kids the new swimsuits for summer camp. You have to put stuff back. How do you decide?

Do you look at everything in your cart or just the treats your kids like? Do you take out the chicken or the ground beef, or both? Wait. Why are you ignoring the salmon? Because you promised your spouse you'd make it for a special weekend dinner?

Illinois keeps going through the checkout line with too much stuffed in the cart. Do we look at everything in our cart?

With the temporary income tax increase gone and pensions eating up a quarter of every dollar we spend, to continue the analogy, Gov. Bruce Rauner says we've got to put back about $6 billion in groceries. Why not the salmon?

Last week, I noted Illinois has a salmon fund with about $80,000 in it at the end of April. Not enough. What about the nearly $2 million in the pheasant fund? Let's not just pick fish and birds. What about that $1.88 million left in the "Metro Pier and Expo Incentive" fund?

Illinois lawmakers recently plugged a 2015 budget gap partly by taking $1.3 billion from special state funds we never hear much about. We have nearly 800 of these funds with $9.67 billion in them. And we have a fiscal emergency.

(Read the rest of Doubek's grocery budget analogy at Reboot Illinois.)

No matter how difficult it might be, Illinois has to face that over-stuffed grocery cart and start putting items back -- right away, says Illinois State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business Kim Clarke Maisch. She says she believes that if given enough time to work, Gov. Bruce Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda" could be the fix the state needs to get its budget (and therefore its economy as a whole) back on track.

(Read the rest of her ideas at Reboot Illinois.)

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