Sunday, February 1, 2015

What If Police Powers…?

What If Police Powers…?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my potential, so I looked into the top ten jobs for the immediate future.  Since my own future is pretty immediate, this remains hypothetical, but in Illinois there are several predicted favorites I’d shy away from if I were a younger individual with some probable distance between point A and point Omega.

According to US News, there are many potential future opportunities besides computer programmers and web designers (lonely vocations at home with Doritos); in fact, the Baby Boomers will generate many future employment opportunities for those youngsters interested in the health profession:  in-house nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and pharmacy.

Sound like a calling?  Beware of Illinois…

Although sitting in front of a computer may seem dreary, the job will probably pay more in Illinois than those other interesting vocations.  Indeed, even if it pays only a trifle, it will probably easily outstrip the payment you’d receive in Illinois.

In Illinois – a state that is as deadbeat with its medical bills as its payment to the pension systems over the decades – you might not get paid at all.

In Illinois the payments for work rendered in areas of human services is woefully behind; one might even say negligent.  It would appear that payment to human and health services and education were slighted nearly as badly as payment to the pension systems over the last many decades.  And, with the exacerbation of the crushing Recession of 2008 and the legislative unwillingness to rectify a structural deficit problem, the debt just kept enlarging. 

Before her untimely passing, Comptroller Topinka warned that although increased revenue from a somewhat-healing economy and taxation (except for corporate) had eliminated some of the backlog of bills to providers in Illinois, the amount owed was still formidable. 

Numbers:  The fiscal year ended in June of 2014 with an amount of $2.4 Billion still to be paid to providers (down from the $3.28 Billion owed in 2013).  However, that backlog number included only what had been submitted thus far, not what was in process or being held by expectant agencies.  Including those numbers ran the current bill (end of 2014 upwards toward $4.6 Billion).

And who is owed this ever-growing amount?  A plethora of agencies and services, including school districts, universities, library systems, drug/alcohol intervention programs, funeral homes, restaurants, Xerox Corp., and sundry other businesses who have done any business with the state of Illinois.

In essence, Illinois has been able to receive services at the expense of agencies and businesses, which in turn have had to borrow from banks and elsewhere to cover their own expenses while they wait for months and possibly years for the money from Illinois to finally show up.  That is, the state has used the businesses as banks from which they can borrow service credit while the state’s own credit rating tanks due to the structural revenue issue it refuses to face.

Sound familiar?  Think pension payments used as loans to build highways, and bridges and provide services for decades. 

Target number one for money owed = health home care providers, home health care therapists, pharmacists and any company dealing with the medically marginalized or Medicaid.  Some pharmacies have become so inundated in unpaid bills that they choose between not making payroll or refusal to see/assist Medicaid patients. 

And if they themselves seek a loan from a nearby bank to make their payroll, promising that the repaid money is guaranteed because it is from the State of Illinois, one can imagine that loan officers looking at an A- rating are hesitant to offer any assistance, except a smile and “good luck.”    In fact, some loan officers tell drowning pharmacists that they don’t think Illinois can be counted on to repay. 

The wait for services rendered now in Illinois can stretch as far as seven months or more.  One reason that Ms. Topinka struggled with the exact number of what was owed was due to the fact that so many agencies times their billing to retrieve the best tax deductions each or subsequent year(s).  What is considered $4.6 Billion could be more…

According to Statista, Illinois owed around $25,000 per capita for its debt.  This would include pension debt, and it is a very SCARY number.  In all likelihood, this is the kind of number that someone like Governor Rauner would like to throw around in an upcoming speech or two.

Don’t be fooled.  Every state in the union is in deficit.  In fact, Illinois is 5th, not first – although the distinction is dubious indeed.   Of all places, Palin and with a glut of oil, Alaska is number 1 with nearly $41,000 per capita.  So much for the GREAT Republican Governors.  Michigan per capita is $14,000 and Indiana is $7,100. 

And what happens if Illinois is able to unlock its own chains and shackles from decades of avoidance of payments to the pension systems by using the legal canard of Police Powers to deny what is owed to those who worked for the state? 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan would tell you that she (and the state) would be able to pay for these significant human services that are in desperate need of succor due to lack of money.   Hmmmm.

Would she or anyone like her father address the structural fiscal deficit in the state?

Or – God help us all – if she were to prevail in the Supreme Court – would she declare the pharmacists, the health care providers, the businesses that have done business with the state a terrible drain on the economy in Illinois and therefore subject to the need for Police Powers to break more contracts?

In fact, if she were to win her necessity argument before the Illinois Supreme Court – why pay anything owed again?  To anybody?

1 comment:

  1. Precisely! If the state prevails at the ISC, pensioners will be only the first to get the ultimate deadbeat treatment. Even our biggest enemies (at the Civic Committee, IPI, Tribune, et al) should realize the danger of getting their way on pension reform. Rauner has actually identified the need correctly - moderate spending, enhance revenue. There is no other formula. However, the devil is in the details, of course, and if you trust him, well, good luck.