Illinois is Broke

Friday, January 29, 2010

That's the message from one of the most influential business groups in Illinois, and the warning couldn't come soon enough.

The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago has gotten into the state budget brawl with some good analysis and an action plan. It's new web site, IllinoisIsBroke.com lays out some dire warnings:

By July, Illinois will be $130,000,000,000 (that's BILLION!) in debt. This crushing load hampers the state's ability to fund public schools and universities, health care, and other essential public services. Most of that money is owed to the state's pension funds and retiree health care plans. And YOUR SHARE of that debt is $25,000 per household.
How did this happen? Basically, Illinois spends $3 for every $2 it takes in. Only in Springfield is this kind of math possible. The state accomplishes this by borrowing or by simply ignoring its unpaid bills. And it has been doing so for years.

This year alone, Illinois will be short more than $14,000,000,000. Things are so bad that Illinois now has one of the worst budget deficits in the nation. This has to stop! Financial disaster is on the horizon. We can no longer ignore the problem.

Illinois must reduce its spending and bring its public pension and retiree health care plans in line with the retirement plans the rest of us have. Go to the What You Can Do page of this Web site to see how you can help.

For some time now, it has been apparent that the politicians, left on their own, would not solve this problem and that the corporate and civic community would have to throw some weight around. The Civic Committee has been successful in a number of endeavors, including pushing for the expansion of O'Hare Airport (although I didn't agree with that campaign).

It's probably too late to influence next week's primary election, but the November general election still is a long way off. Here's hoping that a group of people who have to be financially responsible in the businesses or suffer the consequences can bring some reason to politicians who have no idea of the meaning of the word.