I’ve been warning about the budget woes and pension underfunding of Illinois in general, and Chicago in particular, for years. It’s a classic case of politicians who spend, spend, spend (using money they haven’t got – deficit spending) in order to favor the constituencies (unions, liberal and progressive pressure groups, etc.) that re-elect them. (Illinois isn’t alone in that, of course. Earlier this year there was a sneaky, underhanded attempt to fix up a federal bailout [to the tune of billions, perhaps even trillions of dollars] for such mismanaged state pension systems. It’s still on the back burner, but if the Senate and the White House change hands in November, I expect it to be rammed through faster than prunes through a duck.)
A couple of years back, I wrote:
… before long, Illinois’ corrupt politicians and their union cronies will be calling upon the Federal government to bail them out, at the expense of every taxpayer in the USA. Other states that have similarly mismanaged their finances (California for sure) will probably do likewise. I can only hope and pray that the response to such demands will be “Not just no, but HELL, NO!” Why should US taxpayers have to bail out Illinois unions and politicians, only to allow them to continue in the same vein as before?
Looks like I was exactly on target. Using the current coronavirus pandemic as an excuse, Illinois Democrats are doing precisely that.
Illinois Senate Democrats are asking the federal government for more than $41 billion in federal aid — about a quarter of it for a pension fund bailout — to keep the state financially afloat as the coronavirus pandemic continues to slash revenues across the board.
A letter from Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, addressed to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, went out Tuesday to Illinois’ entire congressional delegation — a day before Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the economic shutdown would result in an estimated $2.7 billion revenue shortfall in the state’s current budget.
“I realize I’ve asked for a lot, but this is an unprecedented situation, and we face the reality that there likely will be additional, unanticipated costs that could result in future requests for assistance,” Harmon wrote on behalf of the state senate Democratic caucus.
Harmon’s federal wish list for the second phase of federal coronavirus relief includes $15 billion in block grant funding to shore up the state’s spending plans for this fiscal year and the next two.
The Oak Park Democrat also asked for $10 billion for the state’s desperately underfunded pension plans.
The Illinois Republican Party slammed that request on Twitter, accusing Democrats of “brazenly using a global pandemic as an excuse to ask the [federal government] to bail them out of the fiscal disaster they manufactured over the last two decades.”
Harmon also wants $9.6 billion for local governments, $6 billion for Illinois’ overloaded unemployment insurance system and $1 billion in public health support for “historically underserved communities”.
It was Rahm Emanuel (until recently Mayor of Chicago) who opined during the Obama administration, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Clearly, his advice has not been lost on his party, or his successors in office.
Illinois’ fiscal problems are almost entirely of its own making. The state, and left-wing/progressive strongholds within it, have overspent and wasted money for not just years, but decades. They’re now trying to make the rest of us, the taxpayers of this country, pay for all their excesses and mis-spending. As far as I’m concerned, and as I’ve said before, the answer should be not just “No”, but “Hell, no!”
Look for other states to make similar demands during this crisis. They think that since so much federal money is being thrown around, no-one will notice (or care very much) that they’re taking the opportunity to divert billions, even trillions of federal dollars to pay for their own excesses and self-indulgence. We dare not let that happen, because it will establish a precedent that will be used again in future. If we pay off Illinois’, or California’s, or any other state’s deficits, what’s to stop them spending just as much all over again, then demanding another bailout? What makes you think they’ve learned anything from their excesses, and won’t repeat them at our expense given half a chance?
We, the taxpayers of this country, should all be writing to our representatives and Senators to protest any attempt to foist others’ economic incompetence and corruption onto our backs. If we don’t, and it happens, we’ll have only ourselves to blame.