Western Courier

Bothered by the budget

Brenna Smith

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Every week when I sit down to write my article for the Western Courier, I start by thinking about what topic needs to be addressed. Usually I started this process by thinking about what has been on my mind lately that is likely to also be on the minds of the people reading the paper.

 This week, I could not think of anything other than the budget impasse in this lovely state of Illinois; however, I thought that might be a little repetitive. I wrote earlier this semester about my frustrations about the budget impasse. Many others have written about their frustrations with the budget crisis.

 Then I thought, this is the exact opposite of repetitive. The inaction by the leaders of this state is repetitive. The finger pointing and the unwillingness to accept responsibility or to compromise with members of the other party is repetitive. That Springfield is not listening to us, their constituents, is repetitive.  The daily news about another university having to make additional cuts is repetitive.

 If you ask me, the purpose of any elected official is to represent the needs of his or her constituents. That being said, it is truly beyond my comprehension why Springfield has seemingly put higher education on mute. At this point, I feel that we are not even being heard. If we are being heard, then Springfield is clearly unconcerned with our needs. I truly do not know which situation is worse or more discouraging: being unheard or being a non-priority.

 Sometimes I question why our legislators in Springfield are behaving this way.  If they are trying to help young people across the state lose faith in the government, they are doing very well. If they are trying to make higher education more difficult to access for their constituents, then kudos to them for their hard work.

 If they are trying to push even more young people to want to leave this state as soon as they can, again, they are accomplishing that goal. If they are trying to remain safely within party lines before elections at the risk of the well-being of their constituents, they seem to be doing just fine with that as well.

 What they are not doing is quite simple: their jobs. Legislators are not representing us or our needs. Instead of pressuring one another to do what is right and fund higher education, they are simply not compromising.

 This ongoing conversation about the lack of state budget is one that has kept me awake at night and made me fearful for the future of higher education in this state.  It has motivated me to start planning a life after college outside of this state which has ignored me for almost 9 months of this fiscal year. It has instilled in me a cynicism for government which I have never before experienced.

 A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I’m “sick of” the budget crisis. It makes me wonder if Springfield is sick of us complaining yet, or if they really just do not care. I understand that this state is in the financial situation that we are in because of years and years of fiscal irresponsibility. However, what I do not understand is why the young people in this state who are trying to better our lives by getting a college education are the ones who are bearing the burden of years and years of actions of people who were in office before we were able to walk or talk.

 The day that I sit down to write an article without having the budget at the front of my mind will be a great day. I’m just waiting on you, Springfield.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Bothered by the budget