Surely, You Jest?
By Patrick F. Cannon
A friend of mine, who decamped from Illinois some years ago for the less expensive charms of Indiana, sent me a link to an announcement by Governor Eric Holcomb of the Hoosier state that all state agencies would be required to cut their budgets by 15 percent, in anticipation of lower tax revenues. Only education would be excepted.
When asked several times about this possibility for Illinois, Governor Pritzker has always responded something like this (I paraphrase): “Would you want to cut the budgets of the Department of Public Health, the Department of Children and Family Services, the State Police? During a crisis like this, we need our state services more than ever!” I listen to his press conferences almost every day, and he has said something very like this several times. I can’t recall anyone following up by asking: “But are these the only state agencies?”
I’m here to tell you that they are not. Indeed, I counted 93 distinct departments, agencies and boards. Here are a few, chosen at random:
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission; Property Tax Appeal Board; Illinois Power Agency; Illinois Commerce Commission; Illinois Gaming Board; Illinois Racing Board; Community and Residential Services Authority; Illinois Toll Road Authority; Illinois Department of Agriculture; State Fire Marshall; Department of Insurance; Illinois Arts Council: and more and more and more.
As you can see, all of these are directly related to battling the Coronavirus pandemic! While we can admire Governor Pritzker for his dedication to getting the state through this pandemic, we should not at the same time give him a pass for failing to do anything to solve the state’s severe financial problems – bad enough before the pandemic, horrific going forward.
People have told me that the governor is not beholden to the Democratic Party and their public employee union supporters because he financed his own campaign. Not true. He knows, and I’m sure has been told in both subtle and unsubtle ways, that he serves at the pleasure of Michael Madigan and his public union supporters. In case you didn’t notice, the legislature passed a $40 billion — seriously out of balance – budget that included no layoffs of state employees (oh, and they’ll be getting their scheduled raises). This, when unemployment in the unlucky private sector in Illinois exceeds 20 percent.
Something else you Illinois voters might want to consider. The Federal Census is rolling along in its every ten-years cycle. Governor Pritzker has said many times that he supports a fair maps amendment, which would take the drawing of electoral districts out of the hands of the party that controls the legislature. Alas, the pandemic has forced him to put this on the back burner. Maybe next year, when it will be too late to affect elections for the next ten years. Do you doubt that the next map will be just as goofy as the current one – you know, the one that’s designed to cement the Democratic Party’s control of the state? (If the Republicans were in power, they would do precisely the same thing.)
You may recall that a couple of years ago, a group supporting fair maps garnered over 600,000 signatures (including mine) to get the question placed on the ballot. This was their second attempt, the first having been struck down by the courts as being unconstitutional. The second effort took the court’s opinion into consideration, but the Illinois Supreme Court still managed to say no dice.
Need I remind you Illinois voters that there is a Democratic majority on the court, and that the justices are chosen by the state Democratic Party, whose leader happens to be Michael Madigan? And that until recently, slating of judges had been in the hands of Chicago alderman Edward Burke, under indictment by the Feds, who also happens to be the husband of the current chief justice, Ann M. Burke?
So, who are you voting for this year? Aside from Joe Biden, I hope?
Copyright 2020, Patrick F. Cannon