Welcome to Illinois Held Hostage: Day 221 without a state budget, and we find ourselves court-ordered and auto-piloted into a $6.2 billion hole.
If the boys in Springfield continue to dither — and there’s no reason to believe they won’t — in another 145 days when this fiscal year ends we will have spent $10 billion to $12 billion more than we have, according to Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger.
She said at present there is $100 million available and a bill backlog of $7 billion. That would be the same as having $100 in your checking account and bill collectors hounding you over $7,000 in debt.
Munger notes that Illinois could tax its way out of the mess, but that would require boosting the state income tax rate from 3.75 percent of your income (remember when it was 2 percent B.B. — Before Blagojevich?) to somewhere between 7 and 8 percent.
“I don’t know (of) any legislators that would vote for that, and I don’t know many businesses that would stay in Illinois for that,” Munger said. “And so, as a result, we must look at some reforms — some that will help our business be more competitive so that they can absorb some increase in taxes and still put people back to work and bring jobs.”
The claxon keeps sounding, the fire bell keeps ringing, the siren keeps blaring, but no one in the statehouse seems to get that you can’t allow spending to rage without a budget to get it under control.
House Speaker Mike Madigan’s familiar response is to again blame Gov. Bruce Rauner — blah, blah, hurt middle class, blah, blah, gave a $4 billion deficit budget in May, blah, blah, blah.
“It is what it is,” Madigan’s spokesman said.
What it is, is a $6.2 billion-and-growing deficit. Munger said that is more than enough money to buy both of this year’s Super Bowl teams, Chicago’s former Sears Tower and two round-trip tickets to the moon.
Maybe the solution is to just buy two one-way tickets to the moon: “Paging passengers Cullerton and Madigan.”