Politics has often been compared to war.
In that vein, the ongoing Illinois budgetary battle could be compared to trench warfare.
Neither Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner nor the Democratic-controlled Legislature, led by House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, are strong enough to overpower the other side.
For 7 months now, the warring parties have stuck to their trenches, lobbed verbal grenades at each other, and stayed frozen to their positions — Rauner calling for enactment of his so-called turnaround agenda before he’ll talk about raising taxes to balance the budget, with Madigan and Cullerton calling for higher revenue and an approved budget first, before Rauner’s reforms are addressed.
In war, innocent bystanders often find themselves into the line of fire. While they are not combatants, they still suffer.
The same holds true for Illinoisans caught in the middle of the state budget impasse, whether they be students, senior citizens, the poor, those with disabilities, or others.
The collateral damage rose dramatically last week when Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, suffering from the lack of state financial support, announced a drastic move.
LSSI is closing more than 30 programs across the state and laying off 43 percent of its staff, all because the state, lacking a budget since July 1, has failed to reimburse it for the services it provides to children, students, families and the elderly.
The collateral damage toll?
Statewide, 4,700 people will lose services provided by LSSI. In addition, 750 employees will lose their jobs.
In warfare, military leaders may be removed for incompetence or dereliction of duty.
In political wars, elections serve that purpose — except that this is Illinois, where politicians gerrymander themselves into districts that protect them from voter retribution.
Will the “troops” in this political war – our state lawmakers – do anything to stop the collateral damage?
As casualties mount in this political war, what further price must be paid by innocent bystanders?