NEWS

Editorial: That’s no budget; it’s a poorly played political game

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

We want a divorce.

From the governor. From the General Assembly.

Pretend the taxpayers, the citizens of Illinois, are the kids. In the scenario that’s playing out in Springfield, the kids are caught in a dysfunctional relationship among the people who control the family bank account. The people who have custody of us are behaving like irresponsible lunatics bent on destroying one another and taking all of us down with them.

Whew. We got that out of our system.

But the truth is that there’s very little going on in state government these days that approximates responsible, effective public service.

Where is the leadership? The fiscal responsibility? The vision? The compassion? The cooperation and collaboration? The selflessness?

What we see is an abundance of political self-interest and vindictiveness. The people of Illinois, who desperately need social services, a capital plan, economic development, educational vision and other government assistance, are the ones who will suffer from this game playing, and that is a crying shame.

Until the weekend, there was still a chance that the General Assembly could rise above the antics of our increasingly bizarrely behaved Gov. Rod Blagojevich and demonstrate responsibility by passing a realistic, balanced budget.

They passed on that opportunity, choosing instead to brush the dust off their own Licenses for Bizarre Behavior and try to top the governor in fiscal irresponsibility.

The General Assembly-approved budget contains something like $2 billion more in expenses than in prospective revenues. Let the governor cut it, they said. Let him be the one to slash and burn social programs, compromise prison security, stall Medicaid payments and deliver other nasty surprises to state agencies that need a steady, predictable funding stream.

Let Blagojevich be the bad guy. Again. He’s pretty good at making fiscally irresponsible decisions already.

House SpeakerMichael Madigan’s ongoing feud with the governor is wearing thin. He won’t take the governor’s calls. His latest antic was to nix a $34 billion capital plan that had been crafted through a bipartisan effort. Madigan said he doesn’t like how the plan would have been funded, and besides, he said, he won’t cooperate until the governor alters his leadership style.

Said Madigan: “I would recommend to the governor that he change his method of governing and his method of working with people and move away from threats.”

Who’s making threats now? We have always known that Madigan wields tremendous power in Springfield. We always thought he tempered that power with good sense and a commitment to public service. Now, he just sounds vindictive.

Meanwhile, a distracted Blagojevich seems to have checked out on his responsibilities as governor. And the legislature is missing in action when it comes to providing leadership.

This game isn’t fun.

Rockford Register Star