by Roman King | U.S.
We’re starting this weekly From the Editor with a to-the-grindstone, difficult topic: the Illinois economic crisis, because why would I get approval to start a weekly column full of fluff?
NOTE: My views do not necessarily reflect the views of 71 Republic as a single entity. If you have any complaints with this piece, direct them to me, not to the entire corporation. Thanks!
Illinois, at this point, is a broken state, and it has been for years.
As someone who has lived their entire life in Central Illinois, I have seen all the goings on of our state government, or, more accurately, lack thereof. I’ve witnessed two consecutive state governors thrown in jail on various corruption charges. I’ve had the displeasure to watch our state legislatures create more and more bureaucracy, to the point where Illinois now has the most units of state government in the entire country — even more than New York and California. As of recently, I’ve seen the politically inexperienced yet well-meaning Governor Bruce Rauner fight tooth and nail against the Mike Madigan-led General Assembly to pass a budget for two years, only to watch the General Assembly refuse any sort of compromise or cooperation. Mike Madigan is playing 3-D chess while our governor continues to play checkers. Two full calendar years without an operable budget has left my state all sorts of jacked up. As of July 23rd, 2017, the only thing that can be called a budget is a 35% tax increase that technically carves out expenditures in the mode of a budget (even though it’s nowhere near operable). Rauner himself has said that we’re entering “banana republic” territory.
Our credit rating is the lowest of any state, and our bonds are about to reach junk status. And to make matters worse, we can’t file for bankruptcy, because Illinois is a state, and that’s legally relevant somehow. In summary, our state is royally screwed, and we can’t even reach out and plead to our creditors for mercy because everything the universe can do to bone Illinois and Illinois specifically can and will happen.
So — what’s the answer, you may ask? You may or may not be shocked to hear that there’s not very much my state can do except to implement contingency plans such as property tax relief and continued stopgap packages, but those aren’t long term solutions. At this point, I fear Illinois may have to reach out to the federal government assistance, but if you’ve been paying any attention to the current political climate, the Feds aren’t really in any sort of a position to provide financial support either. It’s pretty clear further government intervention isn’t the answer to this crisis, and at the going rate, the Democratic lockdown in the General Assembly isn’t going to make further cooperation any easier.
What can we learn from Illinois, then?
For God’s sake, people, balance your budgets.