Voice of The Southern: Lawmakers talk of creating jobs while impasse forces layoffs

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Jobs, jobs, jobs.

Blah, blah, blah.

If a person wants to get elected to any office these days, just make a promise to create jobs and create economic opportunity.

It’s the modern day version of “a car in every garage, a chicken in every pot.”

Unfortunately, the rhetoric is just as empty.

The politicians Illinois voters have collectively sent to Springfield are failing us, and failing in spectacular fashion.

The only news on jobs in recent weeks has been bad.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale announced 80 layoffs this week. The Carbondale Women’s Center is in danger of closing without state funding. Illinois Department of Natural Resources employees are being laid off.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Rend Lake Resort, one of the prime tourist destinations in Southern Illinois, was closed last year because of mold issues. It’s highly unlikely the state will attract a new vendor to take over that operation as long as Illinois is without a budget.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see the facility eventually be bulldozed — something that would cost Southern Illinois more jobs, not to mention thousands of tourism dollars.

And, there’s no reason to believe that will change if the General Assembly and governor can agree on a budget. We are just a couple weeks shy of two full years without a budget.

Two years ago, it was unthinkable that our legislators and governor could let the budget deadline pass by even a day. Now, the notion seems obscenely normal. It’s just the way the State of Illinois does business — or, doesn’t do business.

It is inconceivable that during a span of more than 700 days, our elected officials, supposedly bright people blessed with strong leadership qualities, haven’t been able to forge an agreement that would restore this state to some sort of economic health, or at the very least, stop the bleeding.

It’s one thing for politicians not to keep campaign promises — the solemn vows to create an economic turnaround should always be taken with a grain of salt. It’s another thing to not protect the jobs we already have.

In fairness, the economic climate in Illinois may be creating some jobs — but to no benefit for the state or Southern Illinois.

It seems recruiters at the University of Southern Indiana, Southeast Missouri State University and Murray State University are doing quite well, convincing students from Illinois to enroll in their facilities. Given the uncertain state of education funding in Illinois and layoffs already announced, who can blame students for making educated decisions about their education?

Job security has probably never been better for movers as Illinois residents look for economic opportunity elsewhere. And, comedy writers are doing well, making Illinois the well-deserved butt of jokes.

Granted, those are somewhat facetious, sarcastic examples, but they illustrate the harsh reality of life in this dysfunctional state. Illinois faces problems, serious problems. Yet, there is a depressing lack of leadership being displayed in Springfield.

There are tough choices to be made. Our representatives, senators and our governor were elected to assume that task. It is their primary job.

When a youngster begins school, he or she isn’t faced with a curriculum that includes physics, anatomy or chemistry. Beginning students are taught to read and write. Students need a basic foundation in order to expand their horizons.

Creating a budget is the legislative equivalent of reading, writing and arithmetic. We need a budget before we can turn our attention to the extensive list of issues facing the state.

We are tired of party-line votes. This is a crisis. It is bigger than the “R” or the “D” attached to your names. Yes, we need jobs in Illinois — starting with the commitment of legislators and the governor to do theirs.

You’ve had two years.

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Voice of The Southern: Lawmakers talk of creating jobs while impasse forces layoffs

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