Editorial: Tourists on Leakin' Ship of Lincoln
More than 100 visitors to Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site met a locked gate Monday morning. Some had traveled to the historic village near Springfield from as far away as California, Colorado, Washington, Texas, Louisiana, Nevada, Mississippi, Tennessee, Minnesota, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Well, good. It's about time the rest of America got a taste of just how dysfunctional Illinois government really is. Maybe those folks can go back home and advise others not to waste their time or their money cruising on the Lousy Ship Leakin' Lincoln.
New Salem is a victim of the governor's $1.4 billion in spending reductions, necessitated by a Legislature that handed him a budget that wasn't close to balanced, as mandated by the Illinois Constitution. New Salem's reduced hours are nowhere near the most egregious result of the governor's belt-tightening. No, taking the prize there were health care services for the poor, child welfare programs, treatment efforts for substance abusers, housing for the homeless, state parks, etc. Not that most of those folks matter much, of course; our politicians hear nary a peep from the most vulnerable in society.
Quibble with Rod Blagojevich's choices, if you will, but the Legislature really left him with no option but to restore expenditures and revenues to some semblance of balance. So he did what legislators did not, would not. That still doesn't excuse the governor from calling another special session for next week to deal not with these cuts - many are actually non-increases - but with additional spending for a $25 billion capital plan and schools. Let's see, Illinois cannot afford the government it has now, so let's add even more onto to the pile to make it even less affordable. Yep, that's the ticket.
Oh well, if past is prologue, expect much the same from this special session: Nothing.
We have become painfully aware that little we can write in this space is capable of charming or persuading or shaming those who run Illinois government into doing a better job. Nor do we seem able to convince Illinoisans to vote for leaders more inclined to serve their constituents' interests.
So failing all that, maybe a national reputation as arguably one of the most ineffective, inefficient, incompetent, uncaring, corrupt state governments in America will get someone's attention in Springfield and Chicago, not that we're holding our breath. Many states are having financial problems in this tough economy, but few seem to self-inflict their wounds quite as often as Illinois does. Go ahead, tourists, spread the word.
Peoria Journal Star