Here we go again.
The Illinois House of Representatives passed a budget today. Yay, right?
Well, maybe. See, now that the annual budget ran out, AND the emergency 30-day overrun budget has ALSO run out, and the State of Illinois has been operating without a budget for-what's today? The tenth?--ten days, it seems that we may get a budget.
But then again, we might not. See, Our Beloved Governor (Long May His Hair Wave) says the budget still isn't good enough, because it doesn't have the things he wants. Chief among those things are universal health care, lots more state education spending, and huge spending increases in general with no way to pay for it. OBG wanted to increase Illinois taxes massively a few months ago with a Value-Added-Tax scheme that would have made a lot of sense to a French Communist party member, but the legislature said "NO." Unanimously. Undaunted, OBG decided that if he couldn't have massive spending increases AND massive tax increases, he'd settle for increasing spending with no revenue.
Anyway, OBG says he's "willing to wait as long as it takes" to get what he wants. And even if the Senate passes the budget, which they may very well do, he can still sit on the bill for 60 days without signing or vetoing it.
The irony is that Blagojevich says he's doing all this so that education will be better funded. The flaw in his master plan is that by delaying the budget, he's prevented the state from making one of two annual payments that constitute the schools' share of state tax money. My district is OK, because frankly they get a lot from local property taxes and do not rely on state money in the short term. In a lot of districts, though, especially very rural areas and the inner cities, local property taxes amount to nothing much and they rely on these state payments to stay in business. These places haven't hired any new staff for the new year because the money isn't there. And what's Blagojevich's solution?
"Interest-free loans." No kidding; he proposed giving the school districts interest-free loans in the amounts they're owed for the coming year. The state OWES the districts this money. They're obligated to provide it; they promised it. But now the districts can get loans. This is like your boss telling you that he's not legally allowed to pay you your wages, but he'll give you a loan instead and promise to forgive the loan--AFTER you agree to pay it back. It's just odious.
There is also the minor detail that Blagojevich doesn't have the authority to offer those loans in the first place, so now he's changed it to "low-interest loans." I don't know about you, but I can't think of an interest rate low enough to entice me into accepting a loan instead of my paycheck.
There's almost not enough room to detail this man's buffoonery . . . . on Monday, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes warned that if there were no budget by Wednesday (two days ago for those keeping score at home!) then state workers would miss a paycheck and other bad things would happen. Blagojevich told the press that Wednesday was "just an arbitrary deadline."
The man just doesn't care. And why should he? He's got our number. We knew what he was, and we elected him twice. We are now getting exactly what we deserve.
As the redoubtable Bill Dauterive once said: "Hank hears us. He knows we're here. He's leaving us to die in this tractor trailer to punish us.