Saturday, January 23, 2016

Chicago Trib: "Illinois government is a massive retirement system"

The Chicago Tribune nailed it yesterday in a brilliant op-ed after laying out the disaster of my state government: "As a result, Illinois government is a massive retirement system that, during work hours, also offers some services."

More from the Trib:
The Illinois model lies broke and broken. But for decade upon decade, running Chicago and Illinois must have been sweet. Mayors, legislative leaders and go-along governors — the R or D behind their names meant little — rarely made trouble for one another. To this day aging members of that incestuous Illinois political class describe one another as "someone you could work with." Of course you could. When everyone's profiteering except chumped taxpayers and needy people doomed to shabby services — or, in CPS' notorious case, to shabby educations — why would anybody make strange?

And if a few politicians ruffled an occasional feather — Gov. Dan Walker or, until he got his nose realigned by a certain House speaker, Gov. Jim Edgar — Illinois never had a chief executive who rebuked the Illinois model. Rebuked the quasi-Ponzi scheme in which politicians used rising revenue for their new spending rather than to reduce taxpayers' debts.

At the rotten core of Illinois governance lurked this big lie: If you ran a city or a school system or a statehouse, you perpetually could force Tomorrow to pay for Yesterday and Today. Each mini-generation — a new mayor or governor, a new cohort of legislators, a new county board — could spend and borrow and force their children to pay for it all.

The most egregious example was the pension legislation that today's top legislative leaders, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, and many others helped enact. In return, they got campaign labor and money from public sector union leaders.
Fortunately Illinois voters elected a new governor, Republican reformer and political newcomer Bruce Rauner, who isn't beholden to the "broke and broken" way of doing things. But two old guard Chicago Democrats--the aforementioned Madigan and Cullerton--who are empowered by gerrymandering--want to keep the failed way of doing business in place.

Rauner. Must. Win.

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