Thursday, January 13, 2011



After helping force the largest tax increase in Illinois history through a lame duck session of the legislature in the dead of night (See my now numerous posts over the last week or so on this issue.), Governor Pat Quinn’s boss, House Speaker Mike Madigan, attributed the necessity for such an increase to the national economy and its impact on state revenues. Per the Chicago Tribune:

When you encountered a 25 percent (drop) in receipts, you have a serious problem to contend with. Lower receipts, along with overspending over several years, led to yesterday’s tax increase vote in the legislature.”

The national economic recession led to the budget gap that necessitated this greatest gift to Indiana, Michigan, and the Sunbelt since the admission of Illinois to the union in 1818? Note that the recession was not a local affair; it was a national recession. So why does Illinois have the largest FY 2012 budget gap, as a percentage of its budget, at 50.9%? That’s right; our budget deficit is half the size of our entire budget! The next highest budget gap, by that measure, is found in Nevada, where the budget deficit is 37.1%, which looks almost prudent compared to the Land of Lincoln’s. California has a larger budget gap than Illinois in absolute dollars, but just barely, at $17.2 billion. And $17.2 billion is “only” 20.3% of California’s budget. Yes, the national recession has harmed every state’s budget, but it clearly is not the largest factor in Illinois’s fiscal problems.

Mr. Madigan is much closer to zeroing in on the major reason for our fiscal woes in the second sentence of the above quote, when he mentions “overspending over several years.” But who, Speaker Madigan, was in charge for everyone of those “several years” and who, Mr. Madigan, made sure that everyone understood that he was in charge for those “several years,” and then some.? (See my 1/11/08 post, “SOMETIMES A CIGAR IS JUST A CIGAR.”)

Clearly, Mr. Madigan deserves the lion’s share of the blame for the fiscal mess that resulted in this economy crippling tax increase. But compared to his west side errand boy, Governor Quinn (no relation), Mike Madigan looks like a regular Calvin Coolidge. According to the Tribune, Mr. Quinn (no relation) balked at even the laughable exercise of making the tax increase “temporary” and at even the phony-baloney 2% spending limit that Mr. Madigan felt he had to add to the tax hike bill in order to provide members of his, and his north side errand boy John Cullerton’s, caucuses with fig leaves to attempt to hide their profligacy from those who will pay the bills. Mr. Quinn (no relation) only went along with these disingenuous feints toward fiscal rectitude when Mr. Madigan told him that, without them, Mr. Quinn (no relation) would not get his imagined treasure trove of revenue to blow on his favored constituencies, i.e., people with sob stories and votes who don’t have real jobs. Apparently, even hokey and completely contrived measures to restrain the size of government are somehow immoral to a Governor who sees his apparently divine mission as taking from the productive to bestow on those who voted for him.

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