Thursday, February 18, 2016

Should we care about ’17 budget when we still don’t have one for ’16?

Gov. Bruce Rauner gave us his budget proposal for state government’s 2017 fiscal year (which begins July 1), yet I have to confess to not caring in the least about the specifics of what he put forth.

These two still can't ...
For we’re now in month eight of a 12-month year of Fiscal ’16 without a balanced budget for our state government.

WE SEE THE ineptitude of our government officials to do the one basic duty that underlies the entire operation of our state. Why should we think the upcoming fiscal year will be any different than the current one?

... see eye to eye on budget issues
We also have to see now that the totally absurd, ridiculous conspiracy theory based in paranoia that some predicted early on has a very real chance of coming true.

Illinois Fiscal 2016 (which ends June 30) likely will become the year that Illinois government went without a budget. Which resulted in serious catastrophe for certain state agencies and programs.

While some functions of state government have court mandates to keep operating regardless of the state Constitution’s requirement that a balanced budget be in place before any money can be spent, there also are those that do not.

OF COURSE, MANY of those are the social service programs and the funding for higher education that enables colleges and universities to operate (no, the tuition charged to students is not the primary funding source that keeps those institutions alive, no matter what some students think).

DUNKIN: Dared to challenge the Speaker
The programs that some people of a certain ideological bent want to believe are a drain on government funding are the ones that are going down the drain. I don’t doubt some people are hard-hearted enough to think we’re better off without them.

I, however, am of the belief that our governments (at all levels) have certain obligations that must be fulfilled. Doing nothing amounts to failure.

Maintaining a government that does nothing serves no purpose – unless we really feel the need to puff up the egos of those officials by giving them titles and letting them run around thinking they’re all important.

SO OUR SITUATION is that the governor is presenting a budget plan for this year, when his plan for last year went over so badly that nothing happened. Even Rauner himself conceded the irony of the situation prior to giving his budget address.

STRATTON: Is her campaign political payback?
I really don’t know how this situation is going to resolve itself. Will we have some sort of break that causes our government officials to work together – regardless of political party?

Fat chance! No matter what President Barack Obama said to the Illinois Legislature during his address to them in Springfield earlier this month, we have partisan beasts at the Illinois Statehouse.

We’re at the point where our political people are locked into their positions so tightly that there’s no way either side can alter its stance without looking foolish. Also, I suspect that by this time it is important for both sides not just to win, but that they be able to crush their opponent and dance around their rotting corpse while singing out, “I win, I win, I win!”

IT’S BEING REFLECTED in the local elections this year. State Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, the legislator who dared to thwart Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s legislative control, is facing a serious challenge in the Democratic primary by Juliana Stratton – director of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Public Safety and Justice.

GONZALES: Can he dump almighty speaker?
While Rauner’s financial influence is bolstering the campaign of Jason Gonzales – who is showing the unmitigated gall to run against Madigan himself in the Legislature’s 22nd district on the Southwest Side and nearby suburbs.

Personally, I think both incumbents will wind up prevailing – particularly in the Illinois House 22nd, where the locals think it gives them more influence to have Madigan himself as their local representative. Even though the speaker is so absorbed with larger issues, I suspect he doesn’t give much thought to those local concerns.

And in the end, we may wind up moving into Fiscal ’17 without a budget. If we let our political paranoia run amok, we may also get budget-less fiscals ’18 and ’19. Now that’s a real nightmare.


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