A second-rate city (Chicago) and a third-rate state (Illinois)

Aaron Renn has an article in the Spring edition of City Journal titled, “The Second-Rate City?” It is subtitled, “Chicago’s swift, surprising decline presents formidable challenges for new mayor Rahm Emanuel.” It’s worth a read, especially if, like me, you rarely tune into the circus that is Chicago. I call it a circus because I don’t like the circus (as in Ringling Brothers), and paragraphs like this make me sick:

Chicago’s notorious corruption interferes with attempts to fix things. Since 1970, 340 officials in Chicago and Cook County have been convicted of corruption. So have three governors. The corruption has been bipartisan: both Governor George Ryan, a Republican, and Governor Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, are currently in federal prison. A recent study named Chicago the most corrupt city in the United States.

My focus is on the state, where Republicans have absolutely no excuse for the mess we’re in. Long ago they should have taken good advice like that offered on this website and others: Recruit competent people to run for office, develop a plan, hire non-political-hack pros to disseminate the message, and after winning implement the plan (see Wisconsin for how it works). Instead, paragraphs like this one are still being written:

As dire as Chicago’s finances are, those of Illinois are in even worse shape. The primary cause, once again, is pensions, which are underfunded to the tune of $83 billion. Retirees’ future health care is underfunded an additional $43 billion. There’s a lot of regular debt, too—about $44 billion of it. And Illinois, like Chicago, has run large deficits for some time. Despite raising the individual income tax 66 percent and the corporate tax 46 percent in 2011, the state is projected to end the current fiscal year with an accumulated deficit of $5.2 billion. While California has made headlines by issuing IOUs to companies to which it owes money, Illinois has taken an easier route: it just stopped paying its bills, at one point last year racking up 208,000 of them, totaling $4.5 billion. Some businesses have gone unpaid for nine months or even longer. Unsurprisingly, Illinois has the worst credit rating of any state. Unable to pay its bills, it is de facto bankrupt.

Something tells me that you didn’t hear how Republicans plan to fix any of this at the Illinois state GOP Convention last Friday and Saturday nor at the CPAC Chicago event that took place on Friday.

Read Aaron Renn’s entire City Journal article here.