If you have the misfortune to live in Illinois, you know that our elected legislators have finally gotten around to passing a budget. This was after other more important matters, such as renaming a section of an Interstate, and ironically part of a toll road, after Obama. (Think about that.)
We underlings in Illinois haven’t had a budget for two to three years, depending on who is doing the reporting. Our budget hasn’t balanced in sixteen (16) years! The bond rating is teetering on collapsing into junk status, ranking us last in the country. Government pensions are unfunded…to the tune of about $250 billion…with a “b!” The budget passed both the Illinois House and Senate, naturally right at the last possible hour before the deadline, then went to Governor Rauner. As promised, he vetoed it, and sent it back for another round of gamesmanship and guffaws...at our expense. At that point, the veto was majestically over-ridden with fifteen “Republicans” voting for the budget, allowing Democrats with upcoming elections to vote “nay.” Come election time, those Dems can stand up, pound their chests, and say to the voters that they voted NO! to raising your taxes.
The result was a tax increase on all of us schmucks that live here, raising revenues for Illinois by $5 billion. The extra money will come from a 32% personal income tax hike hefted upon us, which is now 4.95% (at least it’s not the 5% tax it was just a few years ago)! The corporate rate was also increased by 1.75%, up to 7%, which is sure to have an effect on business decisions to move here. The new budget is still short about $15 billion…again, with a “b,” just to pay outstanding bills. (They plan on borrowing some more.) The interest alone on that $15 billion is $800 million! Virtually nothing was cut from the budget, and the reports of what pork was packed in have not been confirmed yet. No mention was made of anything like term limits either, which the Governor wanted. The end result - if you have a $50,000 per year job, this plot on the part of our state legislators to stick their hand in your pocket cost you another $600 per year for the privilege of living here. Remember that when you are paying your outrageous property taxes.
Illinois ranks near the bottom for just about anything that matters – highest property taxes, bond rating, foreclosures, unemployment, government employees with six and seven figure pensions, pension double-dippers, people fleeing the state, workers compensation abuse, shoddy roads, the list goes on and on. It has gotten so bad, Lottery officials, fearing the state would be unable to pay up, pulled the Powerball and Mega Millions games from Illinoisans until a budget was passed, costing the state another $4 million in revenues. We Illinoisans have become the laughing stock of the nation. One Tribune pundit went so far as to suggest Illinois government be abolished and the state divided up by neighboring states – not such a bad idea really. Kankakee Indiana has a nice sound to it. After all, the Kankakee River starts in Indiana.
If Illinois were a business with these types of financial issues, heads would roll. This mess is unsustainable, folks. Illinois has led the nation in mass exodus of businesses and citizens for the last three years in a row. As our governors don’t seem to remain in office long, it would be illogical to place the blame for our mess entirely at their feet. Would it not be reasonable then to look deeper into the quagmire in Springfield to see who or what group might be the problem? Who is in charge of this insane asylum?
It could be said that the problem is none other than the poster child for term limits, Michael J. Madigan. A 46-year member of the Illinois House, the 75-year-old has been the Speaker for 32 years. He represents the 22nd District, a ward of 109,000 people surrounding Midway Airport. Madigan is a founder and senior partner at the law firm of Madigan and Getzendanner, specializing in corporate real estate property tax appeals, and represents clients such as the John Hancock Center and the Prudential Plaza.
Mr. Madigan’s family and close acquaintances hold significant positions in the state. His daughter, Lisa, is the Illinois Attorney General, and has been at that post 14+ years. Wife Shirley is chairman of the Illinois Arts Council, allowing contact with some of the state’s most influential people. His son-in-law, Jordan Matyas, is a chief lobbyist for the Regional Transportation Authority. Joe Berrios, a close associate, is the Assessor of Cook County, obviously a position involved primarily with real estate matters. With such individuals forming an inner circle, whose positions allow their combined influence to be woven through the very fabric of Illinois, and impacting our daily lives, how can such control be good for us?
You can’t make this stuff up folks! And it is us, the people with homes, land, businesses, and/or families that live here that are being shaken down for living in Illinois. This is no longer the “Land of Lincoln,” it is now the “Land of Schmucks!” Just like those poor souls living in the slaughterhouse that is the south side of Chicago, my fellow schmucks, we deserve better than what we have representing us in Springfield.
Or, perhaps we are getting exactly what we deserve.