For those of us who are opposed any more federal government bailouts of state and local governments, California is Exhibit A. As today’s story in the New York Times demonstrates, however, if California is Exhibit A, Illinois is Exhibit B.
The article chronicles how Illinois is unable to pay its bills even for essential services, has chronically underfunded its bloated state employee pension plan, and has already borrowed billions of dollars to pay its obligations — which just worsens the long-term budget outlook. Illinois voters, meanwhile, have elected corrupt incompetents like Rod Blagojevich and state legislators who have made careers out of ducking tough choices on pension and budget issues. No one seems to have been held accountable for the current mess.
Why should the voters of Ohio, or other states, see their tax dollars go to help Illinois when Illinois voters and Illinois legislators have done nothing to help themselves? Although some states, like Ohio, have reacted to the recession and out-of-balance budgets by engaging in legitimate belt-tightening, Illinois and others have responded with still more irresponsibility and profligate spending. How Illinois extricates itself from serious problems of its own making is Illinois’ problem — and only Illinois’ problem.