Illinois is the poster child for reckless out-of-control government spending in a state long dominated by the free spending Chicago centric Democratic Party. When the complicit and strong public sector unions are factored into the governing equation, the recipe for the state's financial disaster is complete. And so it has come to pass.
But while Illinois is definitely one dreadful example of bad government, it's not alone. In fact, there are plenty of similar cases throughout America at the municipal, county, agency, school district and national levels. No matter how the spending is counted or not counted, as the case may be, it's added up to an unaffordable burden on the unsuspecting citizens.
Former Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen famously said this about government spending, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money." How right he was.
And another Illinoisan, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, infamously said this, "America's chickens are coming home to roost." I would add that the soon-to-be "roosting chickens" are coming home throughout American government.
We all know about America's $17 trillion in national debt. And many of our fellow citizens are aware of the additional staggering amount of $100+ trillion in unfunded entitlements.
And some realize that there are other huge 'known and unknown' liabilities in many of our individual cities, counties, states, school districts and other publicly supported entities. Meanwhile, there are the other items such as student loans and U.S. post office liabilities which need to be considered as well.
Add it all up and --- well, the fact is that nobody's even able to add up all the 'knowns and unknowns' out there. But We the People will have to either pay up or somehow disown the humongous obligations that have been undertaken in our name by our duly elected and totally financially irresponsible public 'servants.'
It's time to start telling each other the truth, and newly elected Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is doing just that.
Welcome to Illinois, the Deadbeat State tells the truthful story in the Land of Lincoln:
"Like millions of other Americans, I have spent cautiously, paid bills on time and maintained a strict budget. That doesn’t make us heroes. But it does mean we have exercised common sense, which has been sorely lacking among the politicians in . . . Illinois.
The Land of Lincoln has accrued a $111 billion unfunded liability for government workers’ pensions—up 75% from five years ago. There is an additional $56 billion of unfunded debt to cover health benefits for the state’s retirees. Illinois today is already spending more of its general fund on pensions than on K-12 education. One in four tax dollars pays for its retired workers’ benefits. . . .
The level of debt is staggering. According to a recent report by Statista Inc., Illinois residents owe $24,959 each as their share of the outstanding bonds, unfunded pension commitments and budget gaps the state has accumulated. . . . the state’s A-minus bond rating (is) the worst of any state in the nation. . . . It may be a coincidence, but the eight lowest debt-per-resident states have Republican governors.
Crushing debt isn’t just Illinois’s problem. According to State Budget Solutions, America’s 50 state governments collectively owe $5.1 trillion, including outstanding bonds, unfunded pension commitments and budget gaps. California has by far the largest debt—$778 billion—more than twice that of No. 2, New York, with $387 billion in red ink.
County and local governments also are huge debtors. The Cook County treasurer notes that the county’s numerous local governments have a debt load of more than $140 billion. Of course, Uncle Sam is the worst offender in the deficit-spending Hall of Shame. The federal debt is more than $17 trillion and increasing by $4 billion a day. Every citizen’s share of the debt is $58,604.
The $17 trillion federal deficit is the tip of the iceberg. The U.S. has nearly more than $115 trillion in unfunded liabilities, principally in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. That’s $1.1 million per U.S. taxpayer. . . .
The message of the midterm elections last month was that Americans want to put the era of fiscal irresponsibility and economic stagnation in the rearview mirror. I’m hoping that Bruce Rauner, the Republican elected governor of deep-blue Illinois, will show them how it can be done."
Illinois finances are in a world of hurt. But it's not just the citizens of Illinois who are deeply in debt. It's all Americans.
And for that matter, the majority of city, county, state, and other government entities are in similar situations. And of course, the U.S. government is in the worst financial condition of all.
For too long we've treated government spending and the debt associated with it as 'unaccountable' money. School districts, post offices, cities, counties, states and the federal government all have lived beyond OUR MEANS. Yes, it's OUR MEANS and not their means because in the end it's We the People who will pay.
As a result, it's time to begin the process of coming to grips with the effects of our 'progressive' system of governance. Illinois finally has elected a governor who is telling the truth and will try hard to do something about it.
It's imperative that all of our U.S. government entities and agencies put in place the same truth telling leadership.
Too much government spending and too much government debt have resulted in a fragile U.S. economy. This habit of wasteful government spending and the constant accumulation of debt can't continue forever. So it won't.
Our kids and grandkids need and deserve our help. And that's all I have to say about that.