Can Illinois Priorities Be Better Than Robbing Peter to Pay Paul?
We know Illinois is $15 billion or more in debt, local schools, municipalities and hospitals are owed millions of dollars each, and nothing is being done about this fiscal disaster.
Our governor, constitutional officeholders and state legislators continue to stoke the furnace on the locomotive heading downhill with no brakes.
Myth has it that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. In Illinois, Pat Quinn is pouring gasoline from a hose as Illinois burns.
Quinn and the Democrats think that the best way for business to have the money it needs to expand and create jobs is to raise taxes and take that money away from them. Quinn & Co. think the best way to help working families who are struggling to pay bills is to take more money from them by raising taxes.
Will Quinn use that money to pay the bills the state owes, or to pay down the debt? No, Quinn wants to increase state spending on wasteful projects, getting the state even further into debt.
Remember several years ago when cigarette taxes were increased in Cook County, and Chicago salivated about how it would spend the increased tax revenue? Remember when revenue actually went down? That is a lesson Democrats never learn — revenue goes down when taxes are raised. That is because logic and reality are foreign to a Democrat’s mind. The reality is that Chicagoans drove across the border to Indiana to stock up on cigarettes. Chicago’s tax revenue on cigarettes went down, Indiana’s revenue went up.
Quinn must think that the voters will forget this four years from now, when he is up for re-election. Richard Ogilvie thought the same thing when he instituted Illinois’ first income tax. The voters didn’t forget, and we got Dan Walker as a result.
I would like to offer three suggestions.
First, county clerks who collect property taxes should not send any of it to the state until they parcel out to local schools and municipalities what the state owes them. I don’t know if that is legal, but let’s try it and let the courts settle it.
Second, eliminate all lame duck sessions. The legislature’s term should end when they go out of session before election day. It should not reconvene until the new members are sworn in.
Some people argue that the lame duck session gives outgoing legislators the courage to do the right thing, without the pressure of an upcoming election. I say the legislators are cowards, voting only when they are no longer accountable. MIght they trade their vote for a high paying state job as soon as they leave office?
In my own district, State Rep. Careen Gordon (a Democrat) campaigned on the promise that she would not vote for a tax increase. When she was defeated and in need of a new job, she voted for the tax increase in the lame duck session, and then was appointed by Gov. Quinn to an $86,000 job on the prison review board.
Third, make a new rule — legislators do not get paid until the state pays its other bills first.
Remember the axioms. Follow the money. Money talks.
Money is the only thing that these people understand.
So instead of starting with the big money in the budget, let’s start with the money the legislators love the most. No, not the money for pork projects, but the paychecks for the legislators.
The state collects billions of dollars from the taxpayers, yet it cannot pay the billions it owes to schools, hospitals, doctors or local government.
And yet, our legislators have never missed a paycheck. In fact, they are rewarded for putting the state in financial ruin.
Do the people who created this mess deserve to be paid before our schools and hospitals are paid?
This should be a crusade for reform groups like For The Good Of Illinois, and the Tea Party. Pay the schools, the hospitals and the other bills before paying any of the politicians!
This certainly would get the attention of the politicians.
The reform idea of the forensic audit is what propelled Adam Andrezjewski into one of the state’s conservative leaders. While the concept of a forensic audit is complicated and expensive, it is possible that it could save the state much more than it costs — not so much in uncovering past corruption, but in preventing future wasteful spending by holding each transaction up to scrutiny and expecting an explanation before the money is spent.
In the last months of corrupt Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s administration, many family and friends were hired at big salaries, and numerous questionable contracts were awarded at just a few dollars less than the $25,000 limit that would have required board approval. A pre-emptive forensic examination might have prevented that.
Ending back room deals is a lot more complicated than what is addressed here. But how about a start — no one in the legislature gets paid until the other bills are paid.
Now all we have to do is convince the legislature to pass such a law — right after they pass a law repealing the law of gravity.
Jim Ridings is a regular contributor to the Chicago Daily Observer and is the author of 18 books, including “Len Small: Governors and Gangsters,” and the new “Chicago To Springfield: Crime and Politics in the 1920s,” both available on Amazon.com
image ‘Give not Saint Peter so much, to leave Saint Paul nothing.’