The State of Illinois has been under the control of one political party for decades. The result of this unrestrained reign has resulted in our state ranking near the bottom of almost all economic standards. Before we can reverse this trend, the citizens of Illinois have to be honest with ourselves and truly understand our present-day situation and work to resolve our problems.
The Illinois state budget is currently $128 billion in revenues with spending of $158 billion, a deficient of $30 billion for the current fiscal year. Presently Illinois has $29 billion of assets to pay debts of $253 billion, and don’t forget to add on another $30 billion of debt from our current budget at the end of the fiscal year.
The biggest portion of state debt is $139 billion in unfunded state worker pensions and $56 billion for their health care benefits. State bonds account for $44 billion. Illinois now ranks 49 out of the 50 states for our overall financial debt. Only New Jersey is worse than Illinois in this category.
The invisible corruption tax in Illinois is preventing businesses from moving to Illinois with their jobs and causing many existing businesses to leave the state, along with the jobs they provide.
U.S. Attorney General John Lausch is currently conducting a federal investigation that has so far resulted in the indictments of Chicago aldermen, a state representative and a senator. Commonwealth Edison has also been a target of this investigation.
The high cost of Illinois’s state colleges and universities have increased the number of graduating high school students that are leaving Illinois for higher education in other states. In 2002, 29% of high school graduates left the state to obtain their college degrees, currently that number is 50%. Many of these graduates never return to Illinois.
A net loss of Illinois citizens leaving the state have created another set of problems. Property values in most areas of the state are stagnant or declining because of fewer working-class people in the state that are able to buy housing. As taxpayers leave the state, they take their money, work skills and sometimes businesses with them. Also, Illinois is on track to lose yet another Congressional seat since the number U.S. representatives for any state is based on population.
The main reason Illinois is on a downward death spire is because of high taxes caused by corruption, far too many units of local government, wasteful spending and the state’s refusal to deal with its pension crisis.
My next column will focus on the actions that need to be taken and the consequences of inaction.
• Pete DeLaney is the owner of DeLaney Contracting, Inc. He lives in Crest Hill.