More than 60 Illinois newspapers are using their front pages to call on Illinois' political leaders to end the state's year-old budget stalemate.
Newspapers in Rockford, Freeport, Springfield, Chicago and other cities are publishing simultaneous editorials in their editions Wednesday, when lawmakers return to the capitol to debate budget proposals.
Newspapers rarely use their front pages for opinion pieces or coordinate opinions. Many plan to use the headline "Enough."
Rosanne Cheeseman is interim publisher of the (Springfield) State Journal-Register, which coordinated the effort. She said papers are taking the unusual step because lawmakers appear to have stopped listening to constituents.
Illinois could enter its second year without a budget Friday as Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic leaders disagree on how to address a shortfall in funding.
Here are excerpts of some of the editorials published on Wednesday:
(Arlington Heights) Daily Herald
Today the Daily Herald joins with newspapers around the state that are entreating the lawmakers and leaders of Illinois with a simple demand:
Enough of the silly political games intended to provide quote fragments on campaign fliers rather than money for Illinois schoolchildren.
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register and other papers owned by Gatehouse Media Illinois
Gov. Bruce Rauner said on Monday the state was on the verge of crisis, and that it would be an "outrageous, tragic failure" if schools don't open on time this fall.
With all due respect, Governor, the state is already in crisis and the budget standoff has already been an "outrageous, tragic failure." ...
Voters must revolt and demand better.
(Peoria) Journal Star
Forget House Speaker Michael Madigan for a second. Forget Senate President John Cullerton. Forget Gov. Bruce Rauner. This is between you and your local legislator, who was sent to Springfield by you not to take orders from those guys, not to mindlessly toe the party line, but to work for you, to communicate to those leaders their unhappiness when you are being failed, to work toward solutions that benefit the many -- including you -- even if compromise is required. Have they done that?
To be clear, this is no defense of (Republican Gov. Bruce) Rauner's opponents, beginning with House Speaker Mike Madigan and, to a lesser extent, Senate President John Cullerton. For decades the Legislature under Madigan and Cullerton, aided and abetted by governors from both parties, has given away the store in negotiations with public sector unions, allowed debt to pile up, shoved off the day of reckoning for funding pensions and approved dishonest budgets.
But it was Rauner who set the rules of this fight. He would approve no tax increase, which is essential to any honest new budget, until he got his way on specific pro-business, anti-union policy changes. He has gotten nothing. Instead, the entire state, especially Chicago, is being destroyed by Springfield's inaction.
The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan
The governor and Legislature continue to act as though this "impasse" is all about them. It is not. It is about us. And we demand that you look out for our interests rather than your own. ...
We do not have stopgap lives.
We are people. We are your constituents. And we demand that you finally do your jobs.
The Rock Island Argus and The (Moline) Dispatch
The finger-pointing blame-game hasn't worked. And it won't.
That's why we're joining with newspapers from Rockford to Cairo and Kankakee to the Quad-Cities in proclaiming collectively today that it's time to say "enough" of the old way. This unprecedented organized effort by so many disparate news organizations illustrates the depths to which the budget impasse is affecting all corners of the state.
Editor's Note: WREX has updated this Associated Press article with further information regarding the number of newspapers as well as the inclusion of the Rockford and Freeport newspapers.