From The New York Times
Even by the standards of this deficit-ridden state, Illinoisâ€™s comptroller, Daniel W. Hynes, faces an ugly balance sheet. Precisely how ugly becomes clear when he beckons you into his office to examine his daily briefing memo.
He picks the papers off his desk and points to a figure in red: $5.01 billion.
â€œThis is what the state owes right now to schools, rehabilitation centers, child care, the state university â€” and itâ€™s getting worse every single day,â€ he says in his downtown office.
Mr. Hynes shakes his head. â€œThis is not some esoteric budget issue; we are not paying bills for absolutely essential services,â€ he says. â€œThat is obscene.â€
For the last few years, California stood more or less unchallenged as a symbol of the fiscal collapse of states during the recession.
Now Illinois has shouldered to the fore, as its dysfunctional political class refuses to pay the stateâ€™s bills and refuses to take the painful steps â€” cuts and tax increases â€” to close a deficit of at least $12 billion, equal to nearly half the stateâ€™s budget.
Of course the impact is more than on just Illinois
The federal dollars are nearly spent. Last month, local governments nationwide shed more than 20,000 jobs. Should the largest struggling states â€” like California, New York or Illinois â€” lay off tens of thousands more in coming months, or default on payments, the reverberations could badly damage a weakened economy and push housing prices down still further.
â€œYouâ€™re not seeing these states bounce back, and that could be a big drag on the national economy,â€ said Susan K. Urahn of the Pew Center on the States. â€œIt could be a very tough decade.â€
Here is what it looks like in real terms
The Community Counseling Centers of Chicago is another of those workaday groups that are like the stitches on a baseball, holding together poor and working-class neighborhoods. With an annual budget of $16 million, the agency tends to families torn by crime and violence as well as people who are psychologically stressed and abusing drugs.
On any given Monday morning, the agencyâ€™s chief administrative officer, John J. Troy, 61, has no idea how he is going to keep its doors open until Friday. He said the state had not come through with an expected $2.2 million, which is about six months of arrears. He has laid off and recalled employees three times in the last two years.
â€œTwo weeks ago, I had days to meet my $420,000 payroll and all I was looking at was a $200,000 line of credit from a bank,â€ recalled Mr. Troy. â€œI drove down to Springfield and said, â€˜Hey, you owe us $3 million.â€™ They said: â€˜Oh, thatâ€™s nothing. We owe another agency $10 million.â€™ â€
â€œThe fact of the matter is,â€ he added, â€œI donâ€™t sleep much these days.â€
I know that several current and former politicians across the country read this blog but I can’t think of a Canadian equivalent. In reading about the second Devine government in Saskatchewan the province was pretty much broke but from what I recall, bills were being paid. While the Ontario government had Rae Days, I am pretty sure the bills got paid. Actually outside of the 1930s, I canâ€™t think of a time when a Canadian government didnâ€™t pay itâ€™s bills. Anyone have an example?