The truths in your recent editorial in which you demand a budget for Illinois are undeniable. It’s clear, any political points being scored pale in importance to the palpable damage being done to our state due to the lack of a budget.

The effects are being keenly felt by families and service providers in Cook County and beyond. I know first-hand that law enforcement agencies throughout the state have been negatively affected. With funding for research-based crime-prevention programs currently being left to wither on the vine, the blow to public safety will be felt for years to come.

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As a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois, I have spent years pointing out the value of proven strategies for reducing crime and violence: early education, quality child care, Teen REACH after-school programs, home visiting programs for at-risk infants and toddlers and initiatives aimed at preventing youth recidivism.

Let me offer a snapshot of the damage being felt by the budget impasse. After reversing years of cuts, many preschool programs are now unsure they can open this fall. Across the state, tens of thousands fewer children are receiving affordable child care. Catholic Charities of Chicago reports they have had to close an early childhood center. Providers, unpaid by the state, are cutting and curtailing essential services. That’s just a snapshot of the crisis; the big picture is that denying services to at-risk kids will leave them less safe today – and more likely to commit crimes in the future.

Law enforcement officers know that in order to protect the public, they must act with both compassion and decisiveness. Those are exactly the qualities we need now from our leaders in Springfield. Our children, and public safety, depend on it.

Tom Dart, Sheriff of Cook County

Illinois’ mind-numbing debt

Say what you want about our politicians or the press — on the right or the left, liberal or conservative, capitalism or socialism — but it was just announced that Illinois’ debt has risen to $180 billion! Calculators don’t have enough digits to account for a number this size.  It’s mind numbing.

The current governor has been in office for two years. The speaker of the House has been speaker for 38 of the last 46 years.

In 1971 the total debt for the state of Illinois was $1.6 billion. The State of Illinois has spent $4 billion more than it has taken in every year for the last 46 years. This isn’t all the current speaker’s fault since there have been Republican governors who have simply signed budgets allowing this level of debt to accumulate.

Illinois’ debt is nearly the same as the total revenues of Canada. Mind-numbing.

Mike Simon, Glen Ellyn