Gov. Bruce Rauner, House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin:
It’s time for some plain truth-telling.
You all are damaging our state, its business and industry, its credibility, perhaps beyond repair.
We’re losing jobs. Business executives who would relocate or grow here should have their heads examined. Our debts, and the tax bills we’re all going to face or hand down to our children, are skyrocketing. All of that is occurring because of all of you and your power-hungry political stalling.
You’ll finally all meet next week for the first time in six months, offer the same stale soundbites and not publicly say anything about reaching a budget deal until sometime after January, when you’re confident about who has March primary competition. Then, you’ll need to risk fewer of your members’ political careers when they are forced to vote for a tax increase that grows by the hour.
Illinois is like a 197-year-old house. The foundation started sagging four or five decades ago, when Madigan, Cullerton and previous Republican governors began skipping pension payments or borrowing from the payments to pay for your pork.
Governor, you swept into office on pledges to shake up Springfield and run it with a star-studded team of business geniuses. Now, you and your bipartisan cohorts are shaking the studs as you mouth hollow rhetoric about who’s hurting the middle class and who won’t ease up on labor prevailing-wage rules.
By doing nothing, it’s as if you’re all literally taking turns with a sledgehammer in the basement beneath this once proud state.
Don’t take my word for it.
“The failure of Illinois’ politicians to pass a budget is having a devastating impact on our economy and its small business community,” a group of 15 business and chamber organizations wrote you Monday. “Hard-working Illinoisans are losing their jobs. The government’s failure to pass a budget is having a profound impact on local communities, college students, non-profit agencies, and ultimately, will result in higher taxes.”
Governor, Mr. Speaker, all of you so-called leaders, I’m no fan of gambling, but you’re killing revenue streams like the lottery by not paying winners of more than $600. You are responsible for sending buyers over the borders and lottery revenue plummeting by $21 million last month.
You are responsible for the fact that, in January, when you finally start publicly talking solutions, all of us will bear the load of $12.8 billion in state debt. Divide that by the state’s shrinking 4.09 million taxpayers, and each of us would owe more than $3,100 just to pay off old bills.
Governor, you were going to end this. You campaigned on it. You were going to modernize the tax code, freeze taxes and be the globe-trotting governor who brought business back.
Now, you’ve OK’d taking up to $114 million from the Illinois Finance Authority to keep 911 centers working and streets plowed and food flowing for prisoners. You’re borrowing more money from one pocket of government that could be earning interest to pay for the necessities in another pocket.
All this so you, the Speaker and the rest of the Democrats can wage your power war.
Rank-and-file lawmakers have been venting their frustration.
“We’re killing geese that lay golden eggs, whether it’s the lottery or tourism,” GOP state Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights said. “A CEO of any corporation or business looks at Illinois and says, ‘These people can’t govern themselves. Why do I want to subject myself to that kind of craziness?’ They want stability.”
GOP state Rep. David McSweeney, of northwest suburban Barrington, comes from one of the wealthier districts in the northwest suburbs. He and some colleagues hosted a job fair recently and 250 people showed up.
Borrowing from the finance authority “is craziness,” McSweeney said. “Job growth has come to a halt. The thing that gets me very angry is this idea that we should wait for January. … It’s gotten to the point of being obscene.”
They are right. You’re all to blame.
You have no shame.
Madeleine Doubek is chief operating officer of Reboot Illinois.
Follow Madeleine Doubek on Twitter: Follow @MDoubekRebootIL