food will be keys to economy, Topinka says Jan Dennis The Associated
NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois
is poised to be a bigger player in the global economy because
it has plenty of two key resources: food and water, state
Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka said Friday.
Topinka, speaking on the final day of a two-day economic
development summit that will help guide Gov.-elect Rod Blagojevich's
economic policies, contended future wars will be fought
over water, not oil.
That means the state's ample water supply from the Great
Lakes is an "incredible resource" that can help
lure business and industry, she said.
In addition, a growing world population increasingly will
rely on Illinois crops for food, Topinka said.
"That makes us a player," Topinka said. "What
is power? Power is food. Power is water. And we have both."
But in the short term, reviving a stagnant state economy
will require teamwork between Republicans and Democrats,
government and business and union and management, said Topinka
and state Rep. Dan Rutherford, R-Pontiac.
"Government can't magically create an unlimited number
of jobs," Topinka said.
The state can help, however, by reducing health care costs,
funding education and cutting back government regulation
of business, Rutherford said.
"Small business drives our economy," he said.
"We can't keep passing mandates that burden them."
Stimulating the economy will be a challenge because the
state also will be wrestling with a budget deficit that
could grow to $4 billion by next summer, Topinka said.
Balancing the budget will require "horrible decisions"
on cuts to public aid, mental health, corrections and other
services, she said.
But she said the state also needs to follow the lead of
private business, which has better responded to economic
changes through downsizing, outsourcing and streamlining
Topinka suggested merging the state treasurer's and comptroller's
offices, which she said could save $3 million to $10 million
within six years by eliminating duplicated services.
She said Illinois isn't alone in its budget crisis. More
than 40 states are facing serious revenue shortfalls because
of the nation's sagging economy, she said.
"The only ones not having trouble have more sheep than
people," Topinka said.
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