“Hey, man, I hate to bother you, but I’m tryin’ to take care of my grandmother and this other old dude who used to do some work for us around the house, and I’m totally tapped these days, so I wonder if you could spare $4 billion. I’m good for it. I swear. I’m just going through a tough time financially right now, but I’ll pay you back when the economy gets better.”
Yes, Gov. Pat Quinn has been reduced to begging the state senate to return to Springfield for a vote on his $4 billion borrowing plan, which passed the House with no votes to spare last month. If Quinn can’t come up with the money before the new fiscal year begins on July 1, $3.7 billion in pension payments will have to come out of the state’s budget, which is already $13 billion in the hole.
We often hear that government needs to live within its means, the way we regular folks do. So let’s help out the governor by giving him some tips on how to raise money when you’re broke.
Car Title Loans: The state of Illinois owns a lot of vehicles. The state police have SUVs, the park rangers have pickup trucks, and the Illinois International Port has a tugboat. Illinois Title Loans will spot you up to $4,000 if you sign away your car. According to a testimonial on their website, Mary Shepherd (not a real name) of Crest Hill (a real city) needed $1,500 (not a real amount) to fix her furnace (not a real appliance).
“The manager gave my car a quick once-over, and the next thing I knew, I had my money,” said Mary (not a real quote.)
At $4,000 apiece, it would take a million cars to meet the state’s pension obligations. The state doesn’t own a million cars, but it would be a start.
Taking In Boarders: There are 6.4 million people in Indiana. I find it hard to believe that any of them want to live there. If we charged every Hoosier $625 a year to live in Illinois, we’d be able to make our pension payments.
Selling Weed: For most of us, this is illegal. But the state could make it legal, and collect all the money. The House was supposed to vote last week on a bill to allow medical marijuana use in Illinois, but they never got around to it, because some legislators are worried that pot will cause young people to become passive, irresponsible and make bad financial decisions.
Selling Your Old Records: Copies of Chicago 17 are going for up to $40 on ebay. That album sold 7 million copies, many of them in the band’s hometown. Everyone who bought this album can a) no longer play it, because the turntable broke eighteen years ago and b) is now embarrassed to own it. Selling every copy of Chicago 17 in Illinois could raise $50 to $100 million.
There’s no one answer to this budget crisis.