Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Humpty Dumpty in Illinois...

“Couldn’t Put Illinois Together Again…”

Less than a week ago, the Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza reminded all of us that since its inclusion into the Union the state of Illinois has never undergone a single year without a budget.  Since the inauguration of the Rauner administration in Springfield, the state has had no fiscal budget for going on three years now.

Rauner calls this a “dereliction of duty.”

It’s more than that.

Seniors  will continue to lose meals on wheels and in-home care. People experiencing mental illness will be denied treatment. Survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse will be left without services vital for their safety and well-being. The list of suffering goes on.
The providers of these services have exhausted their funding options, including their reserves, lines of credit and grants from angel donors. Most have received no state payments since last fall. They simply cannot survive; a rash of new closings will likely occur; the state’s social service infrastructure will continue to erode. Meanwhile, a number of school districts across the state are facing the reality that they might not be able to start school on time in the fall.
Moreover, Illinois will also continue its tumble deeper into debt, building on its mountain of unpaid bills, and falling into junk bond status—a crisis that threatens the long-term health of the entire state.” 
(Responsible Budget Coalition:  http://responsiblebudget.org/node/185)

The downgrades to Illinois’ bond ratings continue.  Now we have approached junk-status.

Under Governor Pat Quinn there were nearly as many downgrades as for Rauner, but Quinn’s were the result of unfunded liabilities – NOT self-inflicted wounds as a result of forced impasses.  Did Rauner really expect a Democratic Majority in both houses to buckle under his demands or else?

Or else what? 

Creating unimagined suffering for the marginalized and infirm?  Razing the universities’ educational systems and funding?  Snowballing a stockpile of unpaid bills into an Everest of nearly $15 billion, which will drain successive general revenues for decades?  Shaping a beast of interest payments, which could have been used for easing real obligations?

The Responsible Budget Coalition continues: “Fiscal experts from across the political spectrum—from the Civic Federation to the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago to the Center on Budget and Tax Accountability to the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children—all agree that Illinois must adopt a budget that includes substantial new revenue in order to get out of this mess.
“The Senate Democrats should be commended for voting for substantial new and permanent revenue.  But too many of our elected officials lack the courage and honesty to support what they all know is needed.”

And, yet, the Senate Leader Cullerton reminds us all, “He hijacked the grand bargain in the middle of the process. Told the Republicans to vote no and didn't give the support and the same thing happened in the House and as a result we don't have a budget." (http://abc7chicago.com/politics/gov-rauner-responds-to-state-lawmakers-failing-to-pass-state-budget/2060305/)

Even though offerings of property tax freezes and workmen’s compensation reform were added. Rauner has disdained these offerings.  They “don’t move the needle” enough, he now says. 

“It's well past time to stop making preconditions, pointing fingers, making excuses, and cynically seeking to gain political advantages.”  The Coalition continues: “ And, as we’ve said since the outset of this impasse, the Governor shouldn’t place more importance on his non-budget Turnaround Agenda items than doing his basic duty of proposing and approving a balanced budget and working to fund vital services for the state’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Meanwhile, the Governor continues in his Griffin-sponsored run for office in 2018, splicing together a fallacious argument on the broken government he leads in his faux workshop with reams of duct tape. 

The current backlog of bills is nearly half of General Revenue with a tax increase.  How many years and what size tax increase will be necessary once Rauner is gone?  What kind of payments will we all make to amend this disaster?

Feeling marginalized yourself?

Resist, Illinois.

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