Another load of laws from Legislature

Another load of laws from Legislature

Suffering from a pronounced aversion to doing much of quality, legislators focus on quantity.

More than 200 new laws took effect in Illinois on Jan. 1. Nearly 200 laws took effect in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2017.

In other words, within the space of 12 months, the state of Illinois adopted roughly 400 new laws that, along with those already in the books, govern the actions of the state's 12 million-plus residents.

One might wonder — what was the state like before this orgy of legislative sausage-making? — an anarchic mass of lawlessness that made life barely livable?

Actually, it was just about the same then as it is now and will continue to be in the future as members of the Illinois House and Senate continue to pass another 200 laws per year ad nauseam.

One need not gainsay the merits of all the Legislature's handiwork to wonder about the benefits of this law-making tsunami or question how our legislators can manage to do so much while accomplishing so little.

Given the state's status as a financial basket case, it appears to be a case of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Illinois' public pensions are still underfunded by an estimated $150 billion. (Anyone remember those halcyon days when it was only underwater by $130 billion?) The state's current budget remains in a significant deficit despite an increase in the state's income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent.

The latest census figures reveal that more people continue to leave the state than move in, a population drop that is expected to cost the state at least one member of its U.S. House delegation and perhaps two after 2020.

At the same time, it's no coincidence that the state's economy lags behind those of neighboring states while legislative leaders decline to even recognize the need to improve Illinois' business climate, let alone take substantive action to do so.

The General Assembly, however, deserves credit for one especially substantive action. For the first time in roughly 20 years, it rewrote the state's school funding formula in a way that emphasizes giving more aid to those in financial need and less to more affluent school districts.

But even that measure will not make the major positive difference its backers hope to see without a booming economy that produces the kind of natural tax revenue growth that allows government at all levels to meet its core obligations.

Taxpayers, after all, cannot be expected to continue to pay more and more. Further, recent history has shown that many people in Illinois won't tolerate it. That's why so many are choosing to go elsewhere to find a good job in a state that offers stable government and a bright future.

Unfortunately, all Illinois has to offer these days is the certainty of uncertainty, particularly as it relates to the ability of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislative leaders to work together to solve the state's problems during this election year.

So as the big problems continue to go unaddressed, legislators will keep themselves busy doing something rather than something substantive, just as they did last year.

Their new laws may improve some people's lives in a small way. Many of them will be suitable mostly for candidates' campaign brochures.

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Save the Farms wrote on January 05, 2018 at 11:01 pm

The people of the Blue State of Illinois chose a Republican Governor out of desperation trying to beat down the Democrats that have structurally ruined "my" state.

Unfortunately, he failed and since Madigan hasn't died, we are "stuck with what we've had for 3 decades."

We live in a Democratic paradise - everything the Democrates love and revere is here on full display in Illinois.  Wonderful Unions, Public Pensions, Health Care for pretty much anyone, decent money for Higher Ed. Parks, and now a better distribution to K-12 schools - you name it, we have it.

What we don't have is reasonable discipline and as such, we are now the "worst" state in the union in just about every category.

Welcome to the "Democratic Paradise" of Illinois - a place where everyone has to leave to survive.