Back in January 2011, then-Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and the Democratic-controlled state legislature rushed to enact a major tax increase to address a looming budget deficit of at least $12 billion – about a third of the $35 billion general fund budget. At the same time, the state employee pension fund was underfunded by $80 billion to $90 billion, and the state’s once sterling credit rating was in rapid decline.
Rauner boasted of his shrewd acumen as a businessman and investor, and vowed to apply his business sense and instincts to running the state government.
Fast forward to this week, and little has changed – other than the budget crisis may have grown even worse than before and a Republican rather than a Democrat sits in the governor’s office. After nearly a year of wrangling between the Democratic controlled legislature and Rauner, state lawmakers adjourned late Tuesday leaving Illinois with the dubious distinction of being the only state in the country without a spending plan for the remainder of the current fiscal year or for fiscal year 2017.
“Real people are going to suffer. Real people are going to die,” Democratic State Representative Jack Franks of Woodstock, Ill., warned yesterday.