Gov. J.B. Pritzker and lawmakers are touting their many accomplishments from the recently completed legislative session.
A $15 minimum wage by 2025 (that will kill jobs).
A ballot measure asking voters to change the state constitution in November 2020 that would allow for a progressive income tax plan in which higher wage earners pay higher rates (but eventually will become a tax hike on the middle class because the wealthy alone cannot fill the massive hole that Illinois has created).
A capital improvements plan that will allocate $45 billion to road and other construction projects across Illinois (but at a huge cost to taxpayers, with a doubling of the state's gas tax and higher vehicle registration fees).
Passing what they are calling a balanced, $40.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2020 (the largest spending plan ever).
Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, who voted against the budget, even got in on the propaganda act this week.
“I think it’s as balanced as any budget we’ve seen in the last couple decades,” Brady said with a straight face Tuesday at the City Club of Chicago. “It’s probably the most balanced budget I didn’t vote for.”
That's some interesting politician-speak: "...as balanced as any budget we’ve seen in the last couple decades”?
I'm sorry, but none of the state's budgets have been balanced in the past couple decades, senator.
And a budget is either balanced or it isn't balanced. "Almost balanced" or "as balanced as" doesn't cut it.
According to independent analysts who have examined the 2020 spending plan, this budget isn't balanced either. Spending is projected to exceed revenue – despite the booming national economy and more than $1 billion in tax increases – by a billion dollars or more.
A billion dollars. To be clear, the number one with nine zeros behind it: $1,000,000,000.
That billion-dollar imbalance projection doesn't account for the state's underfunded pensions, retiree medical costs and other debt.
Pritzker, Brady or anyone else suggesting the new budget that begins July 1 is balanced isn't telling the truth.
Spending by state government is out of control, pure and simple. Current and future taxpayers are going to pay the price.
"Gov. J.B. Pritzker says Illinois’ budget is balanced 'for the first time in decades,'" Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner wrote at the fiscally focused watchdog site Wirepoints.com. "That’s the claim he made upon signing Illinois’ $40 billion budget for 2020. Pritzker’s claim is simply not true. According to the state’s own actuarial calculations, his budget is billions in the red."
The (Champaign) News-Gazette's editorial board weighed in Wednesday.
"Pritzker has proclaimed that 'a new era of fiscal stability has arrived in Illinois.' If that is the case, it's come disguised as the same old fiscal instability that has driven this state to its knees," the editorial board wrote.
"From the outside looking in, it's hard to see progress," it continued. "Even the governor's much-touted balanced budget isn't really balanced, according to outside analysts."
The (Decatur) Herald & Review's editorial board criticized the process of passing the budget in its June 8 op-ed, citing that the 1,500-plus-page spending plan dropped too soon for even a speed reader to digest it. Lawmakers voted on it, nonetheless, and it passed with a Democrat supermajority ramming it home to passage: "Consider that the 1,581-page state budget totaling $40 billion was released on Saturday morning, 12 hours before the lawmakers were set to go home," they wrote. "Not a single one before then had seen the spending document, a tangle of numbers and sections that outlined appropriations for education, state agencies and other parts of government. Yet it sailed though."
The Illinois legislature, that editorial board continued, "has turned budgetary tricks into a fine art form, and our state is weaker because of it."
Illinois' fiscal outlook, too, will continue to weaken as higher taxes and more spending remain business as usual at the Capitol.