Thursday, June 11, 2015

Oh, pipe down already!

I was appalled at the rhetoric being spewed Wednesday by Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger with regards to the potential for a shutdown of state government come July IF officials are unable to give approval to a balanced budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year.

MUNGER: Rauner's mouthpiece?
Now I’m sure Munger will justify the horror stories she told of how much the people will suffer if there’s a government shutdown by saying she was simply telling the truth.

BUT WHAT I heard was an attempt by the interests backing Gov. Bruce Rauner in the nonsensical budget battle now taking place to get people to blame “dose damn Dems!” for any action that may occur next month – and in future months.

Because as Munger said, the way to avoid all of this is for the leaders of the General Assembly to accept the anti-union rhetoric he is looking to write into government policy. For Rauner has said he’s not willing to get serious about figuring out how to balance the state budget until he gets some of those proposals approved.

Even though it can be argued, and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has said, that such issues are irrelevant to the budget negotiation process and should not be tied into the financial talks that should have taken place last month.

Munger got way ahead of the process by talking about the process of government shutdown that is caused whenever a new fiscal year begins July 1 without an approved budget in place. Or is she admitting that Rauner has no intention of negotiating seriously?

THE IDEA BEING that government should not be spending money if there’s not a specific proposal outlining how the money gets spent.

What happens is that government still has its income and any expenses incurred prior to June 30 can still be paid – even if the bill is submitted after July 1. But any expenses incurred in the new fiscal year has to wait until a budget is approved.

In the past, there have been situations where government (or at least its most non-essential functions) got shut down for a few days. When the budget finally got signed into law, the bills eventually got paid.

Everything got restored to normal. Or as normal as anything ever is within Illinois state government.

MUNGER TRIED TO make it appear as though the actions she threatened for July (including a halt to Medicaid provider payments, no paychecks for state workers come the July 15 payday and state aid payments to public school districts ceasing as of Aug. 10, to name a few) were somehow unique and long-lasting.

Although if she were realistic, she’d be telling the governor himself about all these bad things and remind him that all of this could happen on his watch – IF he doesn’t quit playing his own partisan political games and start seriously trying to negotiate a workable budget.

Which is what Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton both appear to be trying to do in that they recognize that government has obligations that must be met – even if the CEO-minded Rauner would prefer to improve the state’s financial bottom line by cutting dead weight items.

I’m sure by his mindset, he wonders if we really need to have a Department of Public Aid. I’m sure government finances would be smaller if we could magically erase that agency from existence!

BUT WE CAN’T. And I’m sure there will have to be a realization that some seriously-needed services are going to have to be cut. To me, the sign of a responsible budget proposal is that everybody loses something they wanted to keep and nobody is happy with the end result.

Munger’s rhetoric comes across as though Rauner’s satisfaction is all that matters. It’s not realistic to expect that when one is a governor who has to govern with a Legislature of the opposite political party so solidly in control that they have the ‘veto proof’ majority.

Of course, Munger has her position because she’s a political appointee. Rauner got the authority to pick her to replace Judy Baar Topinka when she passed on in December. I don’t expect her to be unbiased.

But nobody should view her comments Wednesday as a “just the facts, ma’am” approach – it’s as ideologue as if it had come from Rauner’s mouth himself.


1 comment:

Paul Selden said...

The Responsible Budget Coalition has some great suggestions for how to raise revenue and maintain competitiveness. Why can't there be a real discussion about their proposals?