Friday, March 17, 2017

EXTRA: What would Dawn Clark Netsch think of Illinois’ current debt?!?

We’ve reached a truly sad and pathetic stage in our state’s financial condition – the Illinois comptroller’s office had our accumulation of unpaid bills totaling $12,808,805,651 as of Wednesday.
MENDOZA: Ill. w/ debt?

That’s a lot of debt to have built up because of the inability to pay certain bills because we are going on nearly two full fiscal years of state activity without a balanced budget in place.

CONSIDERING THAT THE current Illinois population estimate by the Census Bureau is 12,801,539, it literally translates into just over $1,000 in unpaid bills for each and every resident of the Land of Lincoln.

This figure continues to increase the longer we go without a budget deal in place, yet we don’t seem to be getting any closer to having our government officials realize their short-term political brawls will have long-term consequences.

Because it’s not like the instant we do approve a budget, the problem is suddenly solved. It will take years for us to catch up on the unpaid bills. That is, unless Illinois is becoming the equivalent of a deadbeat who merely quits answering his phone calls so as to avoid the debt collectors.

Not exactly the most flattering image we can have of our home state.

THE REASON WE have these figures is because Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is going out of her way to publicize them. She doesn’t mind if she winds up making Gov. Bruce Rauner look bad – what with the way he and his allies are always going out of their way to ding Mendoza as being some sort of tool for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.
NETSCH: Creating an educational experience?

Her approach fits in with the hostile mood that exists at the Statehouse these days, which is certainly different than the days of a couple of decades ago when I was a reporter-type person there.

I remember how then-Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch used to like to hold monthly press conferences to provide a briefing of the state’s financial situation. Of course, there were times she had all the personality of a dreary, dull constitutional law professor.

She also had a quirky enough sense of humor that when she found out that was how she was perceived, she went with it. We reporter-types became her “class,” and she was going to school us on the details of government finance.

IT MAKES ME wonder how much more feisty Mendoza could be if she tried to take that approach. Would this be the kind of class where the governor winds up sitting in the corner having to wear a dunce cap?
Or would it be the type where the “professor” is eager to be the fun type? Such as Mendoza making it publicly known who she thinks will win the NCAA basketball tourney (North Carolina beats Arizona, she says).

Netsch may have had that one campaign commercial where she shot pool (to show she was a “straight shooter”), but she wasn’t the type to enjoy such frivolity.

And seeing she was a Northwestern alum (and later a faculty member), I doubt she would have been like Mendoza in predicting that the Northwestern Wildcats will see their run come to an end Saturday against the Gonzaga Bulldogs, which means that actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus (a Northwestern alum who has gotten more than her share of public attention for going to basketball games this season) will soon be out of the spotlight.


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