* The problem with the coverage of what budget office spokesman Abdon Pallasch told the Daily Herald yesterday is that he wasn’t saying that universities would definitely close or taxes would definitely increase if AFSCME’s contract wasn’t resolved in the state’s favor and pensions weren’t reformed to the workers’ detriment. He was just throwing out hypotheticals if that stuff didn’t happen. This shouldn’t be taken too seriously or blown out of proportion.
Trouble is, it’s two weeks before the election. Everybody’s naturally jumpy. Democratic candidates don’t want to needlessly aggravate AFSCME or the teachers, or taxpayers.
Not only that, but thousands of state workers and retirees have succumbed to a weird conspiracy theory that the innocuous constitutional amendment on the ballot next month will somehow take away their pensions. And the Illinois Policy Institute is convinced that there’s a secret plan to raise taxes after the election.
So, right now is, to say the least, not the best environment to broach concepts which lead to stories like this…
Gov. Pat Quinn has tried to close prisons, mental hospitals and other state facilities in his quest to cut state spending.
On Tuesday, one of his top budget aides added another institution to the possible target list: Public universities.
The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reported Tuesday that assistant budget chief Abdon Pallasch said the state’s labor unions must make some concessions at the bargaining table in order to avoid deeper cuts in state spending.
“The alternative is we, you know, close a few prisons or universities, I guess,” Pallasch told the newspaper’s editorial board. “I’m not threatening to close prisons or universities. I’m just saying, let your imagination run wild with what we’d have to do.”
* And this…
Asked if getting pension cuts approved before [the new General Assembly takes office in January] is a do-or-die scenario, Pallasch said “yes.”
“There’s really no plan B. We can’t not reform the pensions,” he said.
“If we do, what do we do? Double or triple the state income tax?” Pallasch said. “There’s all sorts of untenable choices.”
* Or this…
Pallasch said the governor does not support raising income taxes further but emphasized the state’s budget situation is dire.
Everybody should just calm down. He wasn’t saying, he was just saying.
But it should be fun to watch the reaction when Gov. Quinn visits the U of I today.
* Meanwhile, thanks but no thanks…
A report due Wednesday on Illinois’ fiscal crisis is heavy on definition but light on recommendations for repair, one of its authors said Tuesday.
An offshoot of a national report released in July that was headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, the Illinois edition of the State Budget Crisis Task Force aims to drive home how big of a hole Illinois has dug itself, according to Richard Dye.
“It spends a lot of time talking about the magnitude of the problem, which is huge — somebody’s ox is going to be gored, or oxen,” said Dye, an economist with the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs.
“Rather than weighing in on the tough choices and focusing people’s attention on specific cuts that we might recommend, we stayed out of that,” Dye said. “That’s the big thing: Something’s got to be done and sooner rather than later.”
Any idiot with half a brain knows we have big problems in this state. For instance…
Because an agreement between state and union officials has expired, 60 union employees of the state had no choice but to report for work Monday to the otherwise empty and unused Illinois Youth Center in Murphysboro — which was the previous place of employment.
The specific agreement between the Department of Juvenile Justice and AFSCME had allowed the workers to be transported for duties at IYC Harrisburg. The agreement expired Sunday, however, and contract talks failed last Thursday. That led to employees returning Monday to IYC Murphysboro — which hasn’t housed a resident since Quinn’s closing decision took effect.
So another study announcing that we have a problem doesn’t really interest me. Ideas from the ivory tower for fixing these problems while doing as little harm as possible to actual people would’ve been nice, but these goofs took the easy way out.