On July 14, Steve Tarter reported on a town hall meeting sponsored by Peoria Peoples Project. In that meeting the group of speakers, which included State Rep. Jehan Gordon Booth among others, stated the best way to get Illinois out of debt was to change the state income tax from a flat tax to a progressive tax. While that solution will increase revenue, it is not focusing on people who are benefiting from the current unfair system, government workers and government retirees.

Peoria's budget problems, Tarter said in an earlier article, are many, but "the fact that 85 percent of property tax money now goes to pay city pensioners," is the main cause. (Note: Nearly 25 percent of the state general fund goes to retirees.) In her letter to the Journal Star opinion page on Sept. 15, Rosemarie Gardner stated "our pension cost for public safety amounts to nearly 45 percent of the salary of a police officer or firefighter."

The tax Illinois really needs is a progressive tax on pensions of retirees. With that tax most of the tax would be paid by government retirees as they are the only ones with huge pensions. Most, not all, government retirees get a 3 percent compounded pension, which is at the heart of both state and local problems. Quick math shows that if you retired from the state making $40,000, in 10 years your pension will be $52,190, and most retirees make much more than $40,000 when they first retire. If you retire from the private sector, you normally get no increase ever.

On the local level, some drastic changes need to be made. All of the little changes, such as shutting down city hall one day a week, won't make a dent in the problem. The only way the city can achieve needed results is to privatize government services. Our state constitution has a provision that says no government pension can be diminished or impaired, so the only way cities can keep providing services is to eliminate government employees and replace them with private contractors.

I have no faith anything will ever change as our elected officials care about nothing but themselves. Mike Madigan didn't even let the "Spain Amendment," a bill to fairly draw maps determining our congressional districts, come to a vote in the legislature, even though most polls showed 85 percent of the people of Illinois supported it.

The best chance for Illinois to get turned around is; heck, no one believes Illinois will ever get turned around until the state is bankrupt.

George Will, columnist with the Washington Post, said in 2016, "High tax Illinois will continue bleeding the population and business, but with one contented cohort — the Democratic political class, for whom the system is working quite well." It's even more true today.

James White is retired from Caterpillar Inc. He lives in Peoria County.