Illinois’ Reckless $45 Billion Capital Spending Binge

Here is how Wirepoints introduced this article about Illinois’ reckless $45 billion Capital spending binge in their email newsletter:

A spending binge so massive, prepared by proven incompetents and dumped on the General Assembly along with thousands of pages of other budget and spending matters inevitably will be loaded with pork and waste.

Here is how its author, Mark Glennon, opens the piece:

“Here’s one conclusion — the Illinois Legislature either has no real grasp of the financial situation in this state or simply doesn’t care. It is our suspicion that too many legislators simply don’t understand the financial reality the state and city face.”

–  “Champaign News Gazette Editorial, June 2, 2019

When Governor Pritzker announced a $41.5 billion capital spending plan a couple weeks ago we thought it was surely just a pie-in-the-sky first offer – that economic realities and unpopular tax hikes needed to fund so massive a plan would chop it down to something reasonable.

Silly us. The plan has now increased to $45 billion.

To get a sense of the enormity of that number, consider that it’s over twice the state’s combined annual revenue from personal and corporate income taxes. It dwarfs all previous capital spending programs. The Illinois Jobs Now capital plan under Governor Pat Quinn was for $18.0 billion in new projects and $11 billion of reappropriations from previous years. Governor George Ryan’s Illinois FIRST was for $12 billion. The Build Illinois program under Governor Jim Thompson was $2.3 billion.

We understand the case for a capital program of some kind, but this is madness. A spending binge so massive, prepared by proven incompetents and dumped on the General Assembly along with thousands of pages of other budget and spending matters inevitably will be loaded with pork and waste.

Even on sensible projects, spending will be excessive thanks to the absurd “prevailing wage” rules that govern all of it. They drive costs far beyond what the private sector pays, which we’ve documented often. The average, total, full-time-equivalent compensation under our prevailing wage laws, including benefits, for all job categories over all counties is $119,000. Public unions effectively set those numbers. Their power is unchallenged in Springfield, which largely accounts for this capital bill.

Read more: Wirepoints

Image credit: www.illinoisfamily.org.