The numbers are horrendous — yet Illinois Republicans are unable to take advantage of Illinois’ crisis — here are Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner:
There’s no arguing that Illinois is a wreck. But read Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes’ new “budget” report – meant to grease the skids for Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s first budget address – and you might get the impression that former Gov. Bruce Rauner alone caused that wreck. Hynes’ report, “Digging Out: The Rauner Wreckage Report,” says that Rauner ran the state “into a ditch.” His list of complaints against Rauner is long: more deficits, unpaid bills, increased pension costs, higher ed struggles, a social service crisis and more.
We won’t defend Rauner. His four years were a failure, full of blunders, lost opportunities and about-faces. And the Rauner/Madigan impasse certainly made things worse.
But Wirepoints wants to set the record straight. Illinois was a fiscal and economic basket case long before Rauner stepped into the governor’s office. No amount of anti-Rauner rhetoric should let Illinoisans ignore that reality.
Ignoring history – or reframing it as the Pritzker administration wants – makes it impossible to properly diagnose what’s really wrong with Illinois. And far more importantly, it gives Pritzker cover to pursue the same policies that preceded Rauner.
No one should forget how dysfunctional, corrupt and broke Illinois was in the years before 2015.
Two former governors were jailed for corruption just five years apart. Unpaid bills in 2013 had already reached a then-unprecedented $9 billion, wreaking havoc on social service agencies. Multi-billion-dollar budget shortfalls were the norm and Illinois’ $100 billion pension crisis became the nation’s worst. The state was hit with 13 credit downgrades under Gov. Pat Quinn and by 2010, Illinois was already the nation’s lowest-rated state. Worst of all, Illinoisans were leaving in droves. Illinois lost a net one million people to out-migration from 2000 to 2014.
Read more: Wirepoints