A billion here, a billion there

A billion here, a billion there

Illinois has spent $1 billion in interest payments on its unpaid bills. That's one of many outrages.

State Comptroller Susana Mendoza released her first monthly financial-transparency report this week, a move that precipitated another round of hand-wringing about Illinois' debased financial state.

Mendoza reported, among other things, that the state spent more than $1 billion in interest payments on more than $16 billion in unpaid bills.

There's no doubt that $1 billion is a lot of money. Paying 12 percent interest on unpaid bills as large as Illinois' adds up fast.

So, to the extent people actually started working on the numbers, they had to know it would be a staggering sum. Nonetheless, the news prompted considerable editorial comment about how that $1 billion could have been better spent — actually not spent at all — if state elected officials handled public finances in a responsible way.

"This list could be endless once you get going," one commenter stated.

Well, yes. But, speaking of seemingly endless, so is the state's continued financial malpractice that is dragging Illinois into the financial gutter.

For starters, there is the state's unpaid debt to its public pensions fund — $130 billion for the optimists and $150 billion for the pessimists.

Then there are the current unpaid bills — $9.2 billion at the end of the month. On paper, that looks good because they once were $16.7 billion.

The state reduced the debt by selling bonds to raise the money to pay off part of the unpaid bills. Yes, you read that right — Illinois borrowed money to pay off part of its debt.

What better evidence of financial desperation could there be? Under the sorry circumstances, the deal made sense because Illinois will pay a lower interest rate on the bonds than it does on the unpaid bills.

Then, of course, there is the current deficit the state is running under the budget that was passed last year on the sworn promise that it was balanced.

Despite that legislative promise of not spending more than the state expected to take in, Mendoza reports that her office now estimates there will be a $2.3 billion shortfall in the spending plan scheduled to expire on June 30.

So while everyone is lamenting the $1 billion in interest payments, let's also lament the willful blindness with which our state government approaches its financial decisions. The overall cost to taxpayers of the state's inability, unwillingness or outright refusal to live within its means is a lot more than $1 billion in interest.

It's damaging, perhaps beyond repair, this state's ability to provide solid services at a reasonable cost to its residents. It's driving people out of Illinois in search of a better, more stable and more promising place to live. It's turning our politics into a horror show in which everyone casts blame and no one takes responsibility.

So, by all means, let's wring our hands. There's a lot to wring our hands about.

After that's over and done with, it's time to start holding our elected officials — Republicans and Democrats — responsible for the mess they've created over the years.

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787 wrote on January 26, 2018 at 8:01 am

And Mike Madigan thinks that he's doing a great job, 

He probably thinks that things are bad, because he hasn't done *enough*, and that more of his insanity would actually fix things.

Save the Farms wrote on January 27, 2018 at 5:01 pm

The State of Illinois is a Democratic paradise - everything the Democrats can and do want is on full display for all to see.  There is no need too small that the State won't take an interest and create a program for it.

Citizens willingly pay their tithe in property and income taxes to support the Paradise with businesses subjected to a higher indulgence.

Unbelievers, who are mistakenly voted as Governor, quickly learn that the Paradise will not tolerate any voice, but a pure Democratic voice.  All hail our chief protector, Michael Madigan, for whom we owe alliegence for creating and maintaining our Democratic Paradise of Illinois for the last 3 decades.

We do not suffer outside influences asking whether a person is a citizen or not - to ask such a question in the Democratic Paradise of Illinois is blasphemous.

There is no higher calling than working for the Democratic Paradise of Illinois and those that are called will be ensured they are cared for above every other person and need in the State.

Thou shalt pay no attention to the poll in the Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5315457/Rhode-Island-Connecticut...) where the Democratic Paradise of Illinois handily wins the "Worst Possible State" award.  

That the Democratic Paradise of Illinois has moved from the fifth to the six most populace State serves as a warning to all that only true believers are welcome.

The 100 people who leave the Paradise each and every day are unbelievers and should be cast out as they are obviously unworthy to live in the Democratic Paradise of Illinois.

It is good that the Democratic Paradise of Illinois leads the nation in the number of students leaving to attend College in other states as they will be our disciples spreading the word of the Paradise.

All hail the Democratic Paradise of Illinois and it's imperious leader, Michael Madigan.