A report carried at CBS News in St. Louis from Jim Anderson of the Illinois Radio Network (IRN), which appears to be a private entity, tells readers that a research study (summary; PDF of relevant chapter) published by the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) at the University of Illinois has identified "a combination of tough policies (which) could bring the state into fiscal balance by the end of the decade." To be clear, the end of the decade is seven years and eleven months from now.
Predictably, the "tough policies" include "maintaining increased income tax rates after they are scheduled to expire." On the spending side, what IGPA describes as "extreme austerity" means "keeping the growth rate of all spending down to 2.1 percent per year." Those who would rather not look at IGPA's detail can be forgiven, because the opening paragraph of the linked chapter above, which IRN did not cite, gives away the researchers' detachment from reality:
The news item I will cite goes back over a week, but the problem surely remains. In light of the ongoing battles over public-sector wages and benefits as well as the taxes which pay for them, it deserves far more attention than it is currently receiving. It follows up on an October 15 post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) where I noted, in reviewing an Associates Press story which originally appeared the previous day, that the State of Illinois' financial inability to pay its vendors on time and the related hardships involved have been mostly getting the establishment press silent treatment, while efforts at fiscal balance in Ohio and Wisconsin largely involving collective-bargaining reforms have been national stories with mostly negative coverage.
An October 20 AP item by Political Writer John O'Connor informs us that who gets paid first is often driven by politicians' pleas instead of place in line. Despite O'Connor's claim that "Republican or Democrat" influence can be involved, he only cited examples involving Democratic lawmakers:
Sometimes it's really hard to understand why certain events get heavy national press coverage while others which are arguably at least as significant and serious get little if any notice. This is one of them. Scott Walker, who solved a $3 billion projected deficit in Wisconsin, is a media and leftist (but I repeat myself) arch-villain because much of the balancing was done by adjusting public-sector employee contributions towards health and pension benefits to more closely but still more generously resemble what's seen in the private sector, and by reducing public-sector employees' ability to restore them to their formerly out-of-control levels through collective bargaining. Ditto for John Kasich in Ohio, where the projected deficit was $8 billion.
Meanwhile, the state of Illinois defers billions of dollars of payments to vendors by four or more months because, despite 67% and 46% increases in personal and business income taxes, respectively, it still doesn't have the money to come even close to staying current. Yet virtually all we've seen from the national press on the problem is one Associated Press story conveniently filed on a Saturday. Here are key paragraphs from the report by Christopher Wills (bolds are mine throughout this post):
It's strange how this "mandate" thing works, at least at the Associated Press.
In Ohio, Republican John Kasich defeated incumbent Democratic Governor Ted Strickland on Tuesday with a victory margin of about 2.5%, or almost 100,000 votes. Strickland is the first incumbent Buckeye State governor to lose a reelection bid since Democrat John Gilligan lost to Republican Jim Rhodes in 1974. In that race, everyone went to bed on Election Night believing that Gilligan had held on -- including Rhodes himself, who conceded the race -- only to wake up the next morning learning that late ballots had pushed Rhodes over the top by a razor-thin margin.
In Illinois, incumbent Democratic Governor Pat Quinn defeated Republican challenger Bill Brady by about 20,000 votes, a margin of about 0.5%.
Below the jump, you'll see who has permission to claim a "mandate," at least according to the Associated Press's headline writers:
Quinn comes in with a squeaky clean reputation at a time when the past two governors have faced serious federal charges.
An Illinois Democrat with a squeaky clean reputation? Now that is news. It also conflicts with assertions made by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin in 1996, when he faced Quinn in the party's primary. The (Springfield, IL) State Journal-Register covered a February debate: