Illinois’ financial situation can be compared to a burning building. The flames are spreading from house to house. No one in state government is trying to put out the fire.
Meanwhile, residents across Illinois are getting burned.
The state is burning through money at a pace that can’t be sustained.
Delays in payments from the state are getting so bad that some doctors and dentists are passing along interest charges to patients who use the state’s insurance plan. They’re not the only ones.
Because Illinois isn’t paying bills on time, the state will fork out an estimated $60 million in penalties and interest. Think of how that money could be better spent plugging budget holes.
The state also is months behind in paying money owed to public universities.
Illinois State University alone is owed $40.9 million, dating back to at least July 1.
Likewise, increased tax levies by local government can be blamed, at least in part, on the state shirking its responsibilities.
Yet there is no visible sense of urgency or crisis from elected state officials — except the urgency to see themselves re-elected.
Little was done during October’s veto session to address the budget deficit, as lawmakers waited irresponsibly to see who filed against them. Now there is speculation that little will be done when the Legislature reconvenes in January because lawmakers and the governor will want to see the outcome of the primary the following month.
Some are even speculating little will be done until after the November election. Illinois can’t wait that long.
We asked state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, and state Sens. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, and Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa, what they personally are doing to resolve the state’s budget problems.
Rep. Brady, who is running for re-election, said he has been meeting with various groups and individuals, such as current and retired ISU employees, and conveying information to the governor’s staff.
Sen. Brady, who is among seven Republican candidates for governor, said there needs to be a 10 percent cut in spending. He said one of the problems in formulating a solution is the difficulty getting information from state agencies.
Sen. Rutherford, who is running unopposed for the Republican nomination for treasurer, said he is repeating his call for reforming the state’s pension system and Medicaid system before considering an income tax hike. He also said he speaks about state issues every other day with Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.
It’s good to hear our lawmakers are “involved,” but the General Assembly never should have gone home in September (not to mention July) without directly addressing the state’s budget problems.
This Editorial Board usually doesn’t engage in “throw the bums out” political rhetoric. But, if substantive action is not taken before the February election, then it will be time to clean house.