Tuesday, May 16, 2017

15 days remain, yet no closer to having a state budget for Illinois government

I find it laughable when political observers think they’re being bold in predicting the likelihood that our state’s government officials will be able to put aside their differences and come up with a budget proposal for the upcoming 2018 fiscal year.
RAUNER: Re-election more important than budget?

The only truthful answer is that nobody knows, but everybody knows. Our state officials are likely to adjourn without taking any action towards a budget. The new fiscal year will begin July 1 without a spending plan in place.

WHICH MATTERS BECAUSE the state Constitution requires that government have a budget approved in order for government to operate. There are some programs that continue because the federal courts have deemed them too important to shut down (think Illinois Department of Corrections, for one).

But others have restrictions on how money can be spent, which means some bills just aren’t getting paid.

And because the partisan politicking that has occurred since the day in January 2015 that Bruce Rauner took the oath of office as governor, it has created a sense of chaos within our state that wouldn’t immediately be fixed even if our buffoonish legislators were to come to an agreement with the maroon of a governor we seem to have.

It would take time for things to resolve themselves back to the way they should be, and the longer our state lingers in budgetary chaos the longer the resolution time will stretch out to.
CURRIE: Leading Dem 'common ground' cmte

THAT IS WHY it is somewhat discouraging to see that our state officials don’t seem to be the least bit shaken up by the status we’re in. Perhaps they’ve become so adjusted to the chaos they’ve wrought that it doesn’t phase them any longer.

And they’re probably also counting on the fact that many amongst us in this state don’t really pay attention to the details of how our government operates. They’d probably like it if we’d focus more on outrage over Miss D.C.’s comments about being an “equalist” rather than a “feminist.”

Perhaps we should be more outraged over why Miss Illinois, Whitney Marie Wandland of Chicago, didn’t win. Our legislators would like it if we’d quit caring about this issue. Because they certainly seem to have moved on.
MADIGAN: Really calling the shots!

Rauner on Monday partook in a ceremony at the Willis Tower to welcome a Japanese economic development organization to Illinois, and also kicked off the opening of a Polish history exhibit at the Thompson Center state government building in Chicago.

AS FOR THE Legislature, a House committee on Wednesday will review the state’s education funding formula and pension reform bills may come up before another House committee on Tuesday.

We may also get some activity this week on a bill pending to make the board of education for the Chicago Public Schools an elected, rather than mayoral appointed, entity.

All of which are nice bits of business. But if state government doesn’t have full authority to operate and conduct its business, all of these details really are reminiscent of that old cliché about studying the china patterns and silverware on board the Titanic. The fact that the Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan-appointed budgetary negotiating team is meeting Tuesday to show off its “common ground” proposals seems more like an effort to pretend it’s trying “real hard” to find a resolution, without doing much of anything.
WANDLAND: Maybe this LuvaBull is more intriguing

The problem by this point is that our officials have become too comfortable with operating in chaos. Rauner, who has interfered with any serious efforts to put together a government budget, is so preoccupied with his anti-organized labor rhetoric that he’s tied into the issue under the guise of “reform” that he probably sees any concession at this point as failure.

WHEREAS DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL operatives who have stood firm against the governor for nearly two full years now wouldn’t see it as a victory if they could reach a budget agreement. I don’t doubt many wouldn’t mind the state enduring four full years of not having a budget in place.

Make Rauner the guy who was so incompetent that he couldn’t even put together a state budget. “Some reformer!,” they’re betting voters will think to themselves as they cast ballots in that November 2018 gubernatorial election.

There are those who are more interested in having an issue to trash the governor with rather than trying to resolve the problem.

All of which adds to the underlying problem of why many people are skeptical (to say the least) of their government – it has become one way too comfortable with people stepping into their voting booths and casting their ballots based on the concept of “Who do I hate the most?!?”


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one commentary where I would thoroughly enjoy it if unforeseen events occurred between now and May 31 prove me wrong. I feel fairly confident I won’t be.

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