Editorial: Time to face fiscal reality, legislators

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

State Rep. Gary Hannig, D-Litchfield, seems to think everything with the budget process in Illinois is just hunky-dory. 

Submit a budget that’s $1.5 billion over balance? 

Not a problem. 

Leave thousands of Illinois state employees wondering if they’ll get a paycheck in a few weeks? 

No big deal. 

Welcome to “Hannig-land,” where up is down and overdrawn is actually cash-positive.

Hannig told The State Journal-Register that he thinks the process by which the state is addressing the budget is working out well enough. 

“I think we’re better in the sense that at least we have a spending plan on the governor’s desk on July 1,” he said. “It’s better to take action on July 1 than Aug. 10.”

Welcome to management Hannig style. 

Rule 1: Do a halfway job and claim victory. The Illinois General Assembly passed a bill that was not even close to being balanced. Now the state has run smack into a new fiscal year without a budget, and state employees are wondering if they’ll still get checks in economically challenging times. 

Rule 2: Shove this problem upstairs, then claim that the work left undone is really someone else’s problem. Gov. Rod Blagojevich may be equally reckless in the proposed budget cuts he’s bandying about, but in fairness he was handed a bloated budget and faces a state mandate to balance it. 

Rule 3: Point out that things could always be worse. Adopt an “IDOT building is half-full strategy” and things will always look better, no matter the reality.

We recognize that Hannig is merely delivering this message on behalf of the House Democratic caucus. And there’s plenty of blame to go around in the state’s budget mess. 

The Senate passes a budget that allows irresponsible power grabs by a governor who’s proven less than trustworthy on some issues. 

The House strikes out on its lukewarm attempt at fiscal responsibility. And the governor gets to scare people with dire cuts. 

Meanwhile, Hannig, a CPA and an architect of the House version of the budget, declares all to be pretty much well in Illinois.

What Hannig — and others — fail to grasp is this: Constituents are sick of having a government that forgets the governed. 

Constituents also clearly understand that not knowing if you have a paycheck coming when the prices of everything keep going up is cruel at best and insensitive at worst. 

Gov. Rod Blagojevich — who has inhabited his own alternate universe during this budget process — on Wednesday ordered the General Assembly back to Springfield next week to address the budget. 

Maybe we’ll get lucky and a July in the Capitol will inspire the governor and House leaders to actually speak to one another and consider, gulp, compromise. 

We’re all in this mess together, but those who are charged with upholding the public trust should spend less time in their own, imaginary fiscal worlds and more time in reality.

State Journal-Register