Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Putting pressure on the pols to resolve Illinois state budget (or lack thereof)

Let’s hear it for Cook County Circuit Judge Diane Joan Larsen, who on Tuesday took action that puts pressure on the political people who currently are finding ways to avoid getting serious about putting a budget together for the state’s fiscal year.

Will anything significant happen here Wednesday?
Larsen issued the ruling that is the worst nightmare to Gov. Bruce Rauner – who had hoped he could continue to make the state payroll even though there is no budget in place.

WHICH IS SOMETHING the Illinois Constitution requires before any government expenses can be paid. It is a logical requirement – spending government money without a plan would be irresponsible.

Larsen ruled that the state payroll can’t be made come July 15, or any other time, until the state gets its act together and officials pass a balanced budget.

Since Rauner and the General Assembly’s leadership aren’t in any mood to get serious (they’re more interested in one-upping each other), there won’t be a budget in place by next week.

So state workers are likely to miss a paycheck (or a few if this political fight lingers on).

IT BECOMES LIKELY they’re going to blame the new guy for stirring things up with his desires for anti-labor and other ideological measures. Even though Rauner desperately wants everybody to believe that it’s the fault of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, who has taken on the role of leader of the legislative fight against the governor’s ideological battles.
Couldn't we just put gov and speaker ...
It’s just a matter of time before Rauner or his allies start taking pot shots (they may be already) at Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose staff argued before Larsen that the state payroll can’t be made.

It will be Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger who will lead the political rhetoric – although there will be others who will spew claims of “Daddy’s girl” against the attorney general. Her office will file the appeal in court, although the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has its own legal action planned to try to keep workers getting paid.

The rhetoric is going to get ugly, and I’ll be the first to admit sympathy for those state employees who are showing up for work these days without knowing if they’re going to be paid on time.
... in a boxing ring to slug it out?
IF EVERY JOB has a perk to make it worthwhile, there also are drawbacks. And one of those for state workers is that there is always the risk of the payroll getting entangled in partisan politics. It has happened in the past.

What makes this year’s situation seem so pathetic is that it seems that Rauner was too eager to bring it on.

So what happens now?

The Illinois House of Representatives is scheduled to convene on Wednesday, which means the high and mighty speaker of the House will have his opportunity to make a statement of sorts that denounces the governor for not getting serious about putting together a budget that fulfills all of Illinois government’s obligations for the upcoming year.

WHICH MEANS MORE rhetoric with little action. Although even if the Illinois House were to pass something on Wednesday resembling a budget, there’s still the fact that the state Senate won’t convene until next week.
MADIGAN: A win for father also benefits state?
Nothing can happen until at least then. Which makes it highly unlikely that anything will happen before the July 15 payday that is the newest “drop dead’ date in this political fight.

Yes, I’m being critical of the governor for prolonging this issue – instead of realizing that his political fight to pass his ideological fantasies is over for this year and that he ought to focus his attention on how to resume the battle come next spring.

If he were serious, he’d realize that is the best tactic to get a political win for the long-term. Instead of threatening the state payroll and angering his employees to the point where they’ll actively work against him to make sure he never achieves his desires.


1 comment:

Paul Selden said...

How do you deliver services in an environment like this? Over the last ten years many people have been involved in building up the capacity of the state to create permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless. the state has multiplied their funding many times to provide dollars for case management. They have done this because supportive housing is a proven remedy for the extreme costs of chronic homelessness. How extreme are these costs? Most people are unaware that allowing people to live on the street costs them money. In fact, the nationwide average cost for keeping a significant percentage of these people on the street is $50,000 per annum. Think of that: doing nothing costs $50,000 a year per person. Why? Because chronically homeless people are chronic users of public services. They are in the emergency room more than others, they are hauled before the court more often than others, they spend nights in jail more often than others, they die younger than others. We are all bearing this cost. The state learned this ten years ago and started pushing for more supportive housing. Supportive housing cuts those expenditures at least in half and often by two-thirds. It also pulls in federal dollars which have been established just for this purpose. The only thing that the state needs to do is pay for the case management. Now in comes the new governor, and what does he cut? Dollars for case managing supportive housing. Millions of dollars of cuts. This has all be explained to him over and over, but great businessman that he is, he would rather pay more to create a new crisis on the street, than continue with a proven strategy that is saving everyone money--not to mention saving lives and improving the quality of life for all of us who live with and around these poor benighted souls who have no place to call home. It seems that becoming "business friendly" requires that we destroy the quality of life of our community.