Legislators balk, bond raters talk

Legislators balk, bond raters talk

Illinois taxpayers have low expectation of their state elected officials, justifiably so.

It was just a matter of time — and not much time at that — before the credit-rating agencies responded to our state legislators' failure/refusal to face up to the financial problems surrounding the state's public pension systems.

Legislators met in a one-day special session on Aug. 17, twiddled their thumbs for a few hours and went home having accomplished exactly nothing. The politics of the November election intruded on policy problems.

Five days later, Standard & Poor's downgraded Illinois' debt rating to A, six steps from the top of the bond-rating ladder, and warned that more downgrades are coming if Illinois doesn't get its fiscal house in order.

Many people may not realize it, but debt ratings mean a lot in the most practical of terms — money.

The lower the state's debt rating goes, the higher the interest it must pay when it seeks to borrow money in the bond market.

The Civic Federation of Chicago estimates that the state's poor credit rating costs Illinois taxpayers an extra $550 million a year.

That's not chump change. It's real money, even by government standards, and it's coming out of taxpayers' pockets.

If you see one of your legislators, ask him or her what they're doing about it. Make them tell you that, collectively, they are doing nothing and planning on continuing to do nothing until the post-election veto session.

Time, as they say, is money — and in this case, plenty of it.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
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Sid Saltfork wrote on September 06, 2012 at 3:09 pm

According to the Chicago Civic Federation, and the News Gazette; the best way to solve the pension debt problem is to cancel the debt inspite of the State of Illinois Constitution, and contract law.  The Chicago Civic Federation receives big funding from the corporate leaders. The News Gazette is known for supporting the big money interests in it's politically biased articles.  What about solving the pension debt owed to public employees by cancelling the corporate tax breaks?  What about cancelling the tax break for "ink, and paper" that the newspaper media receives?  What about cancelling the tax break to Sears, and the CME?  Of course; it is easier for the conservative media to blame the public employees, and support the theft of their earned pensions rather than give up their tax breaks.