Like many in Illinois with a job and money to lose, I am waiting for the hammer to fall. The state Senate’s failing “grand bargain” is a bad omen for those of us who have lived here a long time and know what it portends. Sooner or later a tax increase is coming. It will likely be a big one.
The most fiscally irresponsible state in the nation is Illinois, courtesy of majority Democratic lawmakers in Springfield who won’t be happy until their state becomes the first to be allowed to declare bankruptcy. At least there is bipartisan agreement on political corruption. Both parties share the blame for governors going to prison.
Where to begin with this evolving fiscal disaster? Pension reform, something unions and public employees are fighting tooth and nail to block even though the costs of unfunded retirements are unsustainable and saddle taxpayers with unmanageable debt? Irresponsible social policies that cost too much money? Political corruption and waste? How about tax policies bent on extracting every dime from anyone who works and giving the proceeds to everyone who doesn’t?
You can’t discuss Illinois politics without focusing on Chicago, a train wreck of a city fighting tooth and nail to follow Detroit into bankruptcy. Rahm Emanuel skipped out of Obama’s White House to lead what has become one of the most violence-ridden cities in the nation, a place where Independence Day weekend was celebrated with over 80 shootings. With a mayoral election on the horizon, even Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis is talking about challenging Emanuel’s leadership. Will putting a union boss who helped run up city pension debt in charge save this urban disaster from the fiscal pit?
This category covers the political and financial mess that my state has become. From pensions to taxes to careers ending in the slammer, this is Illinois.
School teachers in Chicago are angry again. Lots of different things tick them off, especially after their union stirs them up and incites them to protest in ridiculous red shirts.
The release of an email from Bruce Rauner written years before he became governor that suggested Chicago teachers have a literacy problem escalated the war over money for the city’s debt-ridden, underperforming educational bureaucracy.
Are you resigned to Illinois being a Democratic Party oligarchy, or do you still believe that our state’s feeble nod to representative government can survive? Regardless of where you stand, the blame for school funding cuts and other fiscal torments can only be laid in one place: at the feet of the people.
Don’t blame politicians.
At the end of another abysmal 12 months Illinois can finally declare without a doubt what its greatest accomplishment was in 2015: talk. Lots and lots of talk.
This time there was a Republican at the helm.
Bruce Rauner has been sitting in the governor’s seat for a year. Before predecessor Pat Quinn left office, he made a final State of the State address that boasted progress that was illusory at best and at worst destructively expensive, or at least would have been if his plans had gone anywhere.
Where best to start with everything happening in Illinois? Do we begin with more credit downgrades,1 two Republican ex-governors turning on Governor Bruce Rauner,2 or Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to scrape up $250,000 to fund a Chicago gun buyback program?3 Let’s set these aside for the moment and focus on something that perfectly defines the budget insanity in Illinois and proves Rauner is right about the urgency of a turnaround, no matter what the consequences are.
Every morning I face going to prison. While driving to work, two signs on each side of the highway threaten to take away my freedom for fourteen years for striking a highway worker. This doesn’t make me a slave exactly and hitting someone is certainly a serious matter, but it still feels like a threat to my liberty without the slightest hint of due process.
He probably didn’t realize it when he said it, but Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s widely circulated remark about what Illinois government should do for residents “who need the government to be helpful to them.”1,2 will go down in state history for summing up the very worst thing about what his decades in office have accomplished.
It’s unfortunate, but true. Even though some people are stupid that doesn’t mean they can’t vote. That’s how democracy works. You get to have a say no matter how politically impaired your views or self-centered your goals.
Is Pat Quinn running neck and neck against Bruce Rauner in the Illinois governor’s contest because people are stupid?