Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pass The Hat For Illinois

The state is in need of funds. Billions, in fact. The governor must have more money to fund even more programs to make his legacy...well, to make his legacy something other than the impending indictment for campaign finance shenanigans. But where will this money come from?

The notion to tax the gross receipts of every single business in the state fell flat. More than flat, as there was not one single vote in favor of wrecking what business remains in Illinois. With that avenue torn asunder, how will Blagojevich generate enough cash to pay for health insurance for all?

First, he should figure out how to pay for the health care that is already available. The poor and uninsured are legally entitled to state funded care, but the state is so far behind on paying the bills that physicians will not see a Medicaid patient. For them, it's charity work and there's only so much charity they can dole out and still pay their bills. So you're poor in Illinois and you've got Medicaid coverage? Take a number. Maybe you can see a doctor in a few months.

Treating the past due bills like so much old news, Blagojevich sallies forth with new plans that will require tremendous amounts of money. The state budget is already bloated, the accounts are overdrawn, but he wants to do more. Where else can he turn to? How about more casinos and gambling?

House Speaker Mike Madigan is no fool when it comes to politics, and he knows that the average citizen is not keen on gambling, aware that it is the poorest and those least able to afford the losses that are attracted to the casinos. Senate President Emil Jones, who is questionably literate, wants more casinos....and he wants the state to bail out the wealthy folks who invested in a casino that was never built. Seems that the Mafia was trying to weasel in on the deal, and the Gaming Board put an end to it, but unfortunately, the investors figured they had it made and went right ahead and started building. As for the original investors, many of them had strong political ties to Chicago's mayor. It was a typical Illinois deal, one that stank of corruption from its inception, and it continues to fester. The gambling bill put forth by Jones was a move by a politician to do a favor to those who donate to campaigns.

Attempts to bury the bail-out in over two hundred pages of legislation failed, however. Once word got out that the Emerald Casino folks were going to profit, Madigan was sure to pull the plug on the legislation or face the ire of his electorate. As things now stand, he has no intention of bringing the gambling bill to the floor for debate and a vote. The state of Illinois is not going to generate more money from new gambling licenses and more casinos, as far as Mike Madigan is concerned.

But how to get more money for state projects? The funny thing is, not one politician has suggested trimming the budget of pork and fat and waste. A friend of Blagojevich earned over $100,000 through fraud. How about eliminating payments for work never performed? How about a bit of oversight at Emil Jones' pet project, Chicago State University. The folks who run the place have been siphoning off money for trips, dinners and anything else they desire, leaving less money for education. Any chance of using the state's income wisely?

No, it's easier to turn to the taxpayer with outstretched hand, weeping crocodile tears and bemoaning the fate of the little children with their low-quality education and lack of health insurance. The tears being shed by the taxpayers? They've just filled up their gas tanks with fuel that costs more in Chicago than anywhere else in the nation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct on all counts. If the State would just exercise the fiscal responsibility that the rest of us are required to do so to survive...

Cut the expensive pensions to match what those in private industry receive. Cut the insurance benefit package to match private industry.

Cut the fraud. Cut the waste. Cut the illegal deals. Cut. Cut. Cut. Done thoroughly they'd find they have more than enough money left over to pay the bills.