Worst. Budget. Ever.

Worse than we thought

By Steve Rhodes
|  Friday, Jun 5, 2009  |  Updated 9:46 AM CDT
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Worst. Budget. Ever.

This budget stinks.

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Surprise! The state budget mess is even worse than we thought.

Of course, that's not really a surprise. Nor is the notion that our state legislators are even worse than we thought.

It's just a fact.

"The General Assembly passed a budget that not only funded programs at an average of about 50 percent of their current levels, but which also had a $1.5 billion deficit," Rich Miller writes at The Capitol Fax Blog.

Why did they do that?

Because in Illinois, the legislative session apparently isn't long enough to put together a budget that adds up - though there's always time to legislate against wet bowling shoes. If your lobbyist happens to be the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party.

"[A]gain, on top of the 50 percent reduction to programs, there’s a $1.5 billion deficit that has to be dealt with because the state pension fund payment wasn’t fully funded," Miller writes. "To put this in some perspective, the state’s payroll cost is about $3 billion. Cutting $1.5 billion more would necessitate some gigantic layoffs."

And the gigantic service cuts that will go along with those layoffs.

"You know who's going to get hurt?" asks Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

Let us guess. Rich folk? Lobbyists? Pols and their pals?

"All of those community-based service providers, who provide health care, who take care of home-bound seniors, who take care of abused and neglected kids, who take care of developmentally disabled adults, those are the folks that are going to lose their jobs," Martire says.

Statehouse reporter Kevin Lee explains. "The budget approved by lawmakers Sunday already had $5 billion in unspecified budget cuts," Lee writes. "If there is a $1.5 billion deficit hidden on top of that, the situation could move from dire to devastating, said Charles N. Wheeler III, a professor of public affairs reporting and an expert in the budgeting process."

That means a tax increase is "inevitable," according to state Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago).

Of course, the General Assembly just voted down a tax increase - leading in part to the dire situation that apparently has to be remedied by a tax increase.

Maybe Blago got out just in time.

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