While Sen. Mark Kirk continues to recover from a January ischemic stroke, one of his Republican colleagues in Congress on Wednesday provided an update on Illinois' financial picture -- and it isn't a pretty one.
"With the failure to undertake fiscal reforms during the state’s veto session last fall, the fiscal picture described in Senator Kirk’s report just six months ago also has worsened," Rep. Randy Hultgren said, reading from Kirk's Report on Illinois Debt. "Moody’s has downgraded Illinois’ debt from A1 to A2 – the lowest rating in the nation."
The report says Illinois taxpayers' "freedom day" -- the day when employees earn enough income to fund their tax burden -- is eight days later than last year, and it says the state's unpaid bills and unfunded obligations are unsustainable.
"Illinois cannot afford to continue on its current path," Hultgren said in a news release. "And Washington will not bail the state out."
He called on state leaders to enact bipartisan pension reform and spending restraints to put Illinois' fiscal house in order.
"We can't wait any longer," he said.
Sen. Mark Kirk's Recovery
Hultgren told reporters gathered in Kirk's downtown office that he hasn't spoken to Illinois' junior senator directly, but said he's heard positive things about Kirk's progress.
"Everything I hear is very good, it's going to be a long process, but I know he's a fighter," he said. "We need him back as quickly as possible but we also need him to do everything he needs to do to be back to full health.
He did not have any information as to when Kirk would be back to work.
Kirk was transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) Center for Stroke Rehabilitation in early February after spending more than two weeks in the intensive care unit of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
His stroke, on the right side of his brain, required emergency surgery to remove a 4-inch by 8-inch portion of his skull to allow for brain swelling. That skull portion has since been replaced.
While there may be some permanent physical consequences, Kirk's doctors are optimistic about the senator's mental recovery.