One of these days a national publication will take note of Illinois, and we who live here won’t want to crawl into the corner and lie on the floor in the fetal position out of sheer humiliation.
That day has not yet arrived.
The American Thinker recently published an article entitled State of Illinois, meet Reality, which provides a compilation of Illinois bloopers in one convenient location.
The article’s author, Michael Bargo Jr., helpfully notes that Illinois is not a candidate for bankruptcy but only because there is no provision in the bankruptcy code for states. Maybe they will have to rewrite the code just for us.
Bargo attributes the severity of our current woes to our currently imprisoned former governor. Mr. Blagojevich presided over “wildly irresponsible budgets,” which were only “balanced” by borrowing
, and selling bonds every year. As a result of this binge-borrowing, Illinois’ credit rating has been lowered 11 times since he left office. Illinois is now paying more to borrow money at the same time it is trying to pay more for everything else. With the recent charge by the Securities and Exchange Commission that Illinois has been defrauding purchasers of its bonds, borrowing may not be possible in the future—even at painful rates of interest.
Bargo notes that Illinois has $98.6 billion in unfunded pension debt, “looming” over its financial future. Curiously, from our perspective, he suggests that Speaker Madigan will be the one to rein in pension spending, because the unions supposedly will have to listen to him. He also lauds the recent paltry gestures toward pension reform.
Bargo’s conclusion, that the inability to borrow will impose fiscal discipline on both Mr. Madigan in Springfield and Mr. Obama in Washington, seems too cheery. Even catastrophic consequences are unlikely to cause Mr. Obama, Mr. Madigan, and others like them to change course in any serious way.
If Illinois were a separate country, it would be tempted to employ the usual desperate measures, like currency inflation, to satisfy its impossibly huge obligations. And a desperate plea for a Federal bailout is likely to occur at some point in the future. Barring some miraculous deliverance, Illinois is running out of options. The way it does business now is not sustainable.
But just because the current regime is disintegrating does not mean a better one will necessarily replace it.
For things to get better, you need people who are organized, have good ideas, and have well-formulated policy alternatives to offer. Only better ideas and better policies can begin to turn Illinois around.