06/27/2017 / By Ethan Huff
It appears that far too many years of waste, corruption, and entitlements have sent the state of Illinois on a downward spiral into total financial failure. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has declared that the state is now entering “banana republic” territory, and that even the Illinois lottery is thinking about bailing as there will soon be no more money left to pay the bills, including lottery prize winnings.
Illinois hasn’t passed a budget in three years – which is completely unprecedented – and the backlog of its unpaid bills has reached an astounding $15 billion. There’s also another $251 billion in unfunded pension obligations that nobody knows how they’ll pay. Because of all this, Moody’s Investors Services has downgraded Illinois’ credit rating to the lowest ever seen in the United States.
Some reports suggest that Illinois may try to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, which would be the first time a state has ever attempted this. But in order to do so, Congress would need to intervene to change state law, as currently this would be an impossibility.
Gov. Rauner is calling for a special session of the Democrat-led General Assembly to finally pass a budget bill that would help to get things back on track. The goal is to avoid a situation in which things get so bad that vital services begin to shut down, setting off a domino effect of progressive failures in other areas of civic life.
“We’re like a banana republic,” Gov. Rauner stated earlier this month after the state’s General Assembly once again failed to pass a budget by the regular session deadline. “We can’t manage our money.”
The office of the governor has been at a stalemate for a long time, as anything it has proposed as a solution has been met with hostility by Democrats, including Illinois House Speaker, Michael Madigan. A top Republican told the media about this “ongoing confrontation,” which has put lawmakers at odds with their constituents, who are now suffering the consequences.
Gov. Rauner says Republicans in the General Assembly have put together a plan that he’s willing to sign, and that it represents a “true compromise” that should be able to please everyone. It includes property tax relief, term limits, and spending caps that would help the people of Illinois while also fixing the problems that put Illinois in this mess in the first place. It also addresses structural reforms, government consolidation, and pension reform.
“Illinois is the fiscal model of what not to do,” Representative Peter Roskam, a Republican, told Fox News. “This avoidance in behavior toward dealing with our challenges is what leads to the devastating impacts we are seeing today.”
But House Speaker Madigan’s press secretary, Steve Brown, says there’s more to it than just obstruction. Included in the General Assembly’s bill are things that he says have nothing to do with state government.
“The biggest problem here is that the governor keeps associating a lot of things that do not have anything to do with the budget,” he stated.”
Gov. Rauner has given the General Assembly until June 30 to come up with a solution. If it fails to pass a budget by this deadline, it can still pass another stopgap package. But lawmakers say this isn’t a good option, and that the people of Illinois will pay the price.
“We have a very real deadline looming,” Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno told Fox News. “The alternative to not finding a compromise will be devastating to Illinois.”
Sources for this article include: