Inside Illinois's Budget Collapse

A Metafilter member rants about the budget crisis in Illinois:

Would you like to know if I have opinions? I HAVE A LOT OF OPINIONS.

Actually I’m kind-of rage-choking on them. The basic situation is, the governor has now passed TWO constitutionally-mandated budget deadlines without bothering to present a budget for the legislature to vote on (which he is required to do). He will not present one until the Democratic supermajority legislature agrees to bust unions statewide. That won’t ever happen. Some commentators think we could just go four solid years with no budget.

It is dire. Several companies have already informed the state they won’t relocate here or open facilities here. Some downstate power co-ops have cut off the state for non-payment of bills, so there are rural traffic lights that are just TURNED OFF. The absolutely killer thing is, the last governor PASSED AN INCOME TAX HIKE THAT CLOSED OUR BUDGET HOLE and would slowly dig us out of our catastrophic pension crisis (which comes from 30 years of legislators and governors from both parties kicking the can down the road and not paying into the pension fund; there’s plenty of blame to go around but something like SIX lawsuits that have gone to the state supreme court have all come back as “no, you seriously still have to pay it”). The new Republican governor demanded the tax hike be allowed to expire — the Democratic legislature let it expire — and now we’re in almost-Puerto-Rico levels of debt and it’s getting worse every day.

And the TOTAL IGNORANCE of this governor’s administration is AMAZING. Like, he did not know — and apparently no one on his staff knew either (a lot of his people are imports from Indiana) — that it’s unconstitutional in Illinois to present multi-topic bills. One topic per bill. So the first thing he did was present illegal bills attempting to bundle union busting with other things. They are forfeiting federal funds and federal matching funds because either they think it “looks bad” if we can keep funding things that federal money is paying for and they’d rather shut it down to increase the pain, or they don’t realize that there’s a federal match. Millions of dollars here, millions of dollars there, down the drain. The Illinois State Museum was closed for the first time in history IT REMAINED OPEN THROUGH MULTIPLE FUCKING WARS, and CLOSING IT COST MORE MONEY THAN OPERATING IT COST. (Because it turns out it is a federal crime to fail to properly maintain custody of Native American artifacts, among other expensive issues that came with closure, but his people didn’t know that either because they have no idea about anything but GOP talking points and do not operate in a fact-based reality.) Didn’t matter, was a gesture for the governor about the wastefulness of government spending in running museums. The real numbers mean nothing to him or his people as long as he gets to make his grandstanding points.

“Now he’s trying to bankrupt and/or take over Chicago Public Schools, for no real apparent reason, certainly not one that benefits the state at large in any way.

“Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities have not been paid and run the vast bulk of the state’s foster care and elder care programs and are in danger of having to start shutting those down. The governor’s answer was that religious people should just donate more to avoid having to shut the down, not that the state should pay the $16 and $25 fucking million it owes them, respectively.

“My city is not plowing or salting 90% of city roads this winter because — I am not even kidding — state funding for roads is so spotty they have to save cash for spring pothole repairs so the roads can be fucking used as ROADS. If it’s less than two inches of snow they’re just not sending out plows or salting trucks, and when it’s more they’re only doing the biggest arterials. IT IS MADNESS.


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