I was appalled to learn the Illinois General Assembly had adjourned without a budget bill. Governor Quinn and state legislators just couldn't come to to the table and at least halt the bleeding. At a reported $100,000.00, they all showed up for a special session to do nothing, and meanwhile the people suffer. Cuts are coming, a train wreck is just about to hit, and our state officials took a two-day trip to Springfield just to sit there and do nothing.
Whether the hole is $9 billion or some other number is not the issue. Whether Gov. Quinn and Senate President John Cullerton are having a disagreement over recall legislation isn't the issue, either. The issue is that what is best for the people of Illinois is being ignored, again. Unfortunately it seems to be more important to pontificate about whose fault it is, who is running for governor or U.S. Senate next year, who's marching at what parade, and who's got the next bead on the next political rally than it is to actually govern.
We have no idea where or when this is going to be resolved. Meanwhile, millions of dollars in Ill. Dept. of Human Services programs sit on the chopping block. Line items directed at cutting HIV/AIDS programs, drug treatment, food for the hungry and emergency intervention services for the homeless also are pending. Finally, literally billions of dollars in stimulus program money may be in jeopardy, again, simply because the governor and the General Assembly still can't come to figure out a solution.
Early reports are that Gov. Quinn and the rest of the Democratic majority in Springfield has one set of numbers (around $9.2 billion in the hole) and Republican Gubernatorial aspirant State Sen. Matt Murphy claims to have another ... and a solution. Of course both camps are positioning this budget fight about who's going to be in the governor's mansion while Illinois' dependent citizens and the rest of us suffer.
It seems that the only person in Springfield who doesn't have his head in politicoville is State Comptroller Dan Hynes. According to Tuesday's Chicago Tribune, Hynes is reportedly proposing a 60-day spending plan coupled with state agency disciplinary policies that could align the budget into something the Guv and the Assembly might be able to see eye-to-eye on long term. Of course, neither Quinn nor Cullerton are budging, or jumping behind Hynes' plan -- the only reasonable option that has been proposed in any real detail.
Why? Well it's simple, really. Neither the governor nor the members of the General Assembly want to go on the record to cut programs, pass ethics reform, reel in campaign contributions or curb spending. None of them wants to be seen as doing anything that would be seen as hurting someone. The problem with that attitude, of course, is that we put them there to take action, and have the intestinal fortitude to actually make some decisions. It is common sense not to target these programmatic cuts at the poor, and liberals will scream bloody murder if it happens (and it might). On the other side, the endlessly pro-business Republican troops led by State Sen. Christine Radogno claim Illinois will continue to lose jobs and businesses if Illinois raises any taxes or fees or passes any sort of perceived anti-business measure.
So who's right? First and foremost, Hynes. He is the only executive in the state who is proposing a solution. Both sides need to strap on a pair and get in line behind his simple first-step plan. Otherwise we're going to be in the middle of that aforementioned train wreck before the end of July.