A must-read Chicago Tribune editorial calls out Legislative Democrats for creating Illinois's "Red October," click here to read the entire editorial.
The state of Illinois is entering its fourth month without a 2016 budget. Welcome to red October.
The pile of unpaid bills continues to rise. Small businesses that provide care to the most vulnerable are laying off workers. Public universities warn of staffing and financial aid cuts. Secretary of State Jesse White said his office can't afford to mail certain notices. And last week, a law enforcement official critical of police training cuts compared Gov. Bruce Rauner to a hostage-taker.
Yes, there are those who believe the freshman governor who inherited the state's decadeslong financial fiasco is to blame for today's wreckage. As if it's easy to cure addicted-to-risk-taking-and-high-spending gamblers.
As the rhetoric heats up, a curious date looms: Oct. 20. Lawmakers won't even return to Springfield until then. They're busy preparing for their re-election campaigns. Budget impasse? What impasse?
They've given taxpayers no confidence that they'll make a serious effort at passing a balanced budget even when they return. The supermajority Democrats in the House and Senate sent Rauner a budget in May, knowing it was wildly out of balance. Like their budget the year before. It was a game of chicken, cavalierly playing with the lives of those who rely on Springfield for help.
"We will publicly acknowledge that we don't have the money to pay for this budget," House Speaker Michael Madigan said in May.
Go ahead. Read that again. Madigan: We will publicly acknowledge that we don't have the money to pay for this budget.
Madigan then convened the House numerous times during the summer as a faux exercise in working toward a legitimate budget. So did Senate President John Cullerton with his chamber. Serious effort on a new budget? Nah. Even Madigan's own members admitted the trips to Springfield were political theater.
Madigan paraded before the cameras dozens of vulnerable men and women who rely on state funding. He tried to pin their plight on Rauner, who had vetoed the irresponsible Madigan-Cullerton spending plan.
Those people were Madigan's props, begging for relief from the lawmakers who — by promising money Illinois didn't and wouldn't have — had put the witnesses in this position.
Read the rest of the editorial, "Staring down Red October" at the Chicago Tribune website.