Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Will past few months be symbolic of next few years in Illinois government?

We’re two months into the current fiscal year for Illinois state government, yet no closer to having the state budget in place that would dictate how government is to operate during Fiscal ’16.

Neither Gov. Bruce Rauner, with his anti-organized labor political agenda, nor the Democratic supermajority in the General Assembly that opposes such thoughts, has shown any sign of budging.

OUR GOVERNMENT FOR Illinois has become a mess or inactivity – or it would be except for various court rulings that say certain functions of the state have to continue to be paid out even without a budget in place.

Which is the reason we don’t have a massive outcry from the public over this mess. The people whose programs fall within the 20 percent that isn’t being court-mandated are usually individuals too low on the social pecking order to be able to demand action.

Of course, those are usually the people most in need of government in their lives. But the masses amongst us can have a “look out for ourselves” mentality when it comes to such issues.

If it were their daily lives that were being tampered with, we would have a tone of “off with their heads” for all government officials!

COMMON SENSE SAYS that the stalemate has to come to an end. Although a part of me wonders if this is what we’re destined to have in Illinois – inactivity all the way around.

What happens if Fiscal ’16 (which runs through June 30, 2016) goes without a budget ever being approved? If we count on these assorted court orders to keep select programs and functions operating?

And what if this attitude carries into Fiscal ’17? If our state government amounts to a whole lot of nothing? Personally, I’d like to think this is a ridiculous theory bordering on conspiracy bopping about in my brain. Because if it becomes reality, it does great harm – even though I’m sure the people looking out for themselves (and nobody but) will claim they’re not being hurt.

For one thing, I don’t like the idea of government being dictated to by the courts – whose concerns are usually very specific circumstances and NOT the function of state government as a whole.

PEOPLE WILL WIND up getting hurt if their functions don’t fit into the list of those mandated by the courts.

There also is the problem that the state agencies and programs that are being paid out continue to be paid at last year’s budget levels. Even though the reality is that there either needs to be a serious funding increase to maintain services – or a severe cut if we’re really determined to do with nothing more than the current revenue levels.

The longer we go without making that decision, the more complex it would be to make cuts (because too much of this year’s money will have been spent).

It makes me think that the most significant thing that is happening within state government is the money that Rauner is raising to bolster the legislative campaigns of candidates who want to run for the General Assembly as Republicans.

RAUNER HAS NO interest in backing away from his political agenda of wanting to blame organized labor for all of government problems. So he needs to cut into the Democratic majority in the Illinois House of Representatives and state Senate.

Because then, at least, he’d be able to have “veto” power that could allow him to reject Democratic Party initiatives – rather than have the Legislative Dems be capable of telling him to “Stuff it!” whenever he says no.

Which makes the November 2016 election cycle of prime importance. Can Democrats (with their strength coming from the two-thirds of Illinoisans who live in the Chicago metropolitan area) be able to keep their power? Or will Rauner be capable of buying it away from them?

We could easily have stalemate and government inactivity that runs through January 2019? That is the real nightmare!


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