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Editorial: The state of Illinois: Still crazy after all these years

Illinois+State+Capitol+in+Springfield.+%28TNS%29
Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. (TNS)

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. (TNS)

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. (TNS)

By Rockford Register Star, Ill.

We all know the definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

We thought it might be enlightening to see just how crazy things were here in the state of Illinois so we took a trip through our archives and came up with the following sentences from editorials that show we indeed are reliving “Groundhog Day.”

Then: Keep the heat on lawmakers so the state pays the staggering amount owed schools and social service providers. — Feb. 16, 2010.

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Now: Social service providers still await checks from the state. The state’s current budget woes have exacerbated the problem, but the state has been an unreliable partner for more than a decade. The lack of funding for the triage crisis program at the Rosecrance Mulberry Center is a prime example of how bad things have gotten. Rosecrance had said it will close the triage program Thursday unless money from the state or other sources arrives. Fortunately, it looks as if other entities have stepped up to keep it open.

Then: Illinois needs to live up to its obligations and control spending. State finances are no different from our own: You can’t spend what you don’t have. Even credit cards have maximums, and you can’t borrow your way out of debt. — Dec. 9, 2008

Now: The state still is not meeting its obligations. When we complained about the bill backlog in 2008, the state was $1.72 billion behind in paying vendors, an amount we would cheer today. The state is more than $9 billion behind on its payments with no hope of catching up in sight.

Then: From the same 2008 editorial: Paying bills in a timely manner should be a basic principle, as should be spending money from dedicated funds for their intended purposes.

Now: The state has become so fond of raiding dedicated funds that the group Citizens to Protect Transportation Funding is urging voters to say yes to a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would ensure money for transportation projects is used for transportation projects. Other dedicated funds have no such advocate.

Then: We think divided government in Springfield will be a better model for forcing tough choices in a state with a budget deficit of $13 billion. — Nov. 1, 2010.

In a recap of endorsements, Republican Bill Brady was our choice.

Now: This is not what we had in mind when we wrote about “divided government.” A Republican governor has not been able to work with a Democratically controlled General Assembly and the results have Illinois mentioned too often on the wrong lists. Redistricting reform could change that, but the most recent effort was blocked by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Then: Even though we support gambling expansion — and we’d like to see Rockford get its share — we agree with the governor. Pension reform should be the No. 1 priority. — Feb. 19, 2005. Now:

So much for priorities. Eleven years later, the state’s pension liability is $111 billion and growing. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that 2013 pension reforms were unconstitutional and there hasn’t been much action on the legislative front since. That gambling expansion? We’ve seen video gaming legalized, but Rockford still is waiting for its casino.

Quote: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill. The British statesman wasn’t talking about the state of Illinois, but he could have been.

The going from failure to failure has been well documented, but we’re not sure about how much enthusiasm there is to really fix the myriad problems in Illinois.

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(c) 2016 Rockford Register Star, Ill.

Visit Rockford Register Star, Ill. at www.rrstar.com

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