Saturday, September 5, 2015

$5.26 billion, and rising!

That’s how much money is owed by Illinois government to various entities, but can’t be paid because of the lack of a balanced budget proposal in accordance with the state Constitution.

The partisan battlefield. Casualties are scattered across the state
To be specific, the Illinois comptroller’s office said that as of Friday, the state owed $5,256,826,990. Some 51,591 entities are owed that money – and both of those figures only figure to increase on a daily basis.

SO MUCH FOR the people who want to believe that this state budgetary standoff isn’t really impacting anyone – and who try to use that “80 percent” figure (as in the number of entities whose bills are still being paid by the state due to assorted court orders).

It will become worse because the longer the state goes without a balanced budget plan, the harder it will be to balance out.

For state government is still spending at the same rate of the 2015 fiscal year that ended June 30 – even though there had been estimates that had said state government needed to cut its expenditures by about $5 billion if it were to maintain itself within the current income levels.

Unless someone were to break down and come up with a fundraising proposal that would come up with the cash to maintain the state’s current responsibilities.

WHICH IS SOMETHING that goes against Gov. Bruce Rauner’s sensibilities – mostly because he and his political allies want to think of the people who benefit from those added expenses as being the “deadbeats” who are a drag on the state.

Just as they view their employees as the “drag” on the financial bottom line of their companies. How much more profit would they have IF ONLY those “deadbeats” didn’t demand so much for their work?!?

That attitude likely was only reinforced by the inability of the Illinois House of Representatives this week to override Rauner’s rejection of a bill that would allow labor arbitrators to resolve differences involving state government and its union employees.

Rauner backers are determined to portray this as a MAJOR VICTORY!!! over the tyrant Michael Madigan – in some cases giving us images implying they fantasize about placing the House Speaker’s head on a pike.

PERHAPS OUT FRONT of the Statehouse near the Abraham Lincoln statue.

Then again, I’m sure there are those Democrats in the state Legislature who wish they could do the same to the governor. For all I know, their behavior would be even more juvenile.

This is the real problem our state faces these days – not any partisan argument about whether organized labor is the bane of state government’s existence and whether every single political person who lives outside of Chicago ought to be ganging up in unison against the city’s interests.

Which seems to be the Rauner political strategy for coping with the Democratic-leaning supermajority that has the potential to overrule anything he tries to do.

AS SOMEONE WHO was at the Statehouse during 1995-96 (when the concept of “Illinois House Speaker Lee Daniels” gave us a Republican-dominated state government), it is dismaying to see a GOP strategy that can only go backward – and to a two-year period that was so overly-partisan in nature that the real majority of Illinoisans said “Good riddance!” to its demise.

Of course, all of that rhetoric is partisan in its own nature, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m going to lean toward the city’s interests (because Illinois ultimately lives or dies on the status of Chicago).

Talk is cheap. But the cost of that talk isn’t. And now we know what that cost is.

$5,256,826,990, and rising on a daily basis.


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