Voters Just As Indecisive As Illinois Lawmakers

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By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Jared Roberts

CARBONDALE -- If you're looking for someone to blame for the state of Illinois' ongoing struggles, you might want to look in the mirror. 60% of people think the state's on the wrong track, but a new analysis from the Paul Simon Institute suggests voters could be part of the problem.

It shows that the attitudes of residents haven't changed all too much in the last five years. Only 30 percent believe Illinois is on the right track. But the Simon Review concludes that if you gauge people's attitudes about certain subjects, there's no question why lawmakers are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
 
You find examples at Mary Lou's Grill in Carbondale, which serves up more than just omlettes and pancakes. There's a lot of food for thought when you walk into this local favorite.
 
"I think we're still on the wrong track; we need to vote some politicians in who will do something," says owner Marilynn Martin.
 
While politics is not always on the hotplate, the diner is a good place to gauge how locals feel about their politicians.
     
Waitress Trina Clark says, "They're stuck, their hands are tied. I think there's just not enough to go around and they don't equal with each other, they don't agree with each other." 
 
John Jackson with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute doesn't disagree, but says voters have a role in the gridlock.
 
"The legislature has done exactly what we the people have asked them to do. We've asked them to not pay the bills on one hand, which creates deficit financing, but keep the services, keep our favorite programs coming," he explains.
 
Take the tax debate this spring, lawmakers couldn't pass a bill extending the tax hike, nor the bill to make the necessary cuts without it.
 
Local voters are also torn over spending and taxes.
 
"There are programs that are going to have to be cut and people are just going to have to tighten their belts," says Martin. "I don't know, I really don't know what they should cut. I'm glad I'm not in that position to decide that."
 
Clark explains, "I would open back up some of the prisons, give these people a job, make them happy again."
 
According to the poll, over the last five years, people are more inclined to cut funding from pensions, state parks, and public universities. But even those cuts don't enjoy majority support.
 
One area where opinions have changed in Illinois is on gay marriage. Support has increased by 20 percent in the last five years.
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