* A “normal” governor would want to try and keep everyone together during this fiscal crisis and not needlessly go out of his or her way to cause trouble. We don’t have a normal governor, however…
Seven state parks will still close next weekend, even though Gov. Rod Blagojevich and state lawmakers have approved money to keep them open, the Blagojevich administration said today.
Blagojevich originally targeted 11 state parks to close Nov. 30. Lawmakers approved $230 million in new spending to prevent those park closings and a variety of other cuts, and the governor approved most of that spending yesterday.
But Blagojevich spokeswoman Katie Ridgway said Friday afternoon that only four of those 11 state parks will remain open: Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park in Sheffield, Channahon Parkway State Park in Channahon, Gebhard Woods State Park in Morris and Kickapoo State Park in Oakwood.
Nothing like going out of his way to enrage lawmakers over about a million dollars. Good one.
* There’s no doubt that the fiscal mess is real and intense…
As the amount of state money owed to the Christopher Rural Health Planning Corp. edges ever closer to $1 million, the nights get longer for its president and CEO Kimberly Mitroka.
CRHPC, a not-for-profit organization that operates 15 healthcare clinics in nine Southern Illinois counties, provides medical, dental and pharmacy services for more than 30,000 patients.
Fully one-third of those patients are on Medicaid, the medical benefits program administered by the state.
As of Friday, the organization was owed a little more than $900,000 by the state for services provided to Medicaid patients.
* And budget holes are appearing everywhere…
Once viewed as a cash cow that could fetch well over half a billion dollars and save the state budget, Illinois’ only available casino license is being pursued by three companies offering far less, and industry analysts say even those cut-rate numbers may not hold up in the sagging economy.
“It’s very bad timing for Illinois,” said Bill Eadington, director of a gambling institute at the University of Nevada-Reno. “We’re facing the biggest economic recession in 75 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if the companies that made bids a couple months ago could no longer justify them.”
* To make matters worse, the Wall Street nosedive is devastating the pension funds…
The financial markets have taken a toll on Illinois’ pension programs. Lawrence Msall is the head of the Civic Federation.
MSALL: We’re hearing projections of losses in excess of 20 percent or more. And they were already dramatically underfunded to the tune of about 43 billion. So we believe that we’ll be passing the 50 billion mark.
Unless we see a turnaround soon, that will translate into more money from taxpayers.
* And the future is bleak…
A breakthrough will take compromise and sacrifice from both legislators and the governor. That message hasn’t truly hit home at the Capitol.
“We’re going to have make adjustments in the budget, just like a lot of people will, and they’re probably going to be painful,” Hannig said. “But we have to recognize the reality that we’re in a recession.”
I don’t want to even think about next year yet. It won’t be fun for anyone.
* Blagojevich spares just four parks
* Tribune: No casino for Rosemont
* Lots of talk, little action on state budget crisis
* Bidding for Illinois’ Tenth Casino Enters Final Round
* Moffitt: There’s Still Hope For Historic Sites
* Downstate sheriff wants to limit jailings
* Mansion agreement welcome, but more work needed