BLOOMINGTON — As an Illinois Wesleyan University alum, state Rep. Tom Cross says he always enjoys the chance to return to Bloomington-Normal.
But when he returned Monday, the Oswego Republican was more concerned about planning for the future than reliving the past.
Cross, a candidate for state treasurer, was the keynote speaker at a luncheon sponsored by the McLean County Republican Party at the Doubletree by Hilton.
"I think that it is critical that we turn this state around," Cross said. "We have to start with balancing the budget. The Constitution mandates that we have a balanced budget and, because we haven't had a balanced budget, we have $4 (billion) to $5 (billion) to $6 billion dollars of unpaid bills and last year, we spent $300 million in late fees and penalties to anyone who provides services to the state.
"I think balancing the budget is a lynch pin to the recovery of the state," he said. "I believe the treasurer has a duty to enforce that provision of the Constitution. They only have so much money to spend and if they do spend more, I have a duty to go to court to enforce the Constitution."
Cross faces Democrat Michael Frerichs, a state senator from Champaign in November. The winner will replace current Treasurer Dan Rutherford, a Chenoa Republican.
Cross told an audience of about 50 people that Illinois has the second-highest migration rate in the nation, after New Jersey. Companies are locating in other states, he said, because it costs less to do business.
"I believe we can fix this, but it can't be done overnight," he said. "It is going to take time and it is going to be a slow climb. But other states around us have done it and we have to make some changes, but I know we can do it and it starts with making some changes in Springfield. We have a good opportunity with the upcoming election. People in this state are fed up with the current course but I know if we are united, we can fix most of these problems."
Cross also announced he would create an Illinois Financial Report Card that would be released quarterly, providing a thorough account of the state's financial status.