A politician speaking certainly shouldn't be news. But it is in the case of House Speaker Michael Madigan, Illinois' political potentate who acts as if we're all too stupid to know how state government should be run. Usually he has nothing to say in public about anything, in response to media questions.
So, it's news when he does have something to say, kind of a man-bites-dog story. And he admitted the state has big financial problems, part of it was caused by everyone overspending. But in a kind of the devil-made-me-do-it admission* he said,
Asked whether he should bear greater blame [for the budget problems], having served in Illinois government in an influential position for nearly 30 years, Madigan said it took more than “one person” to drive Illinois into a pattern of spending beyond its means.
In flusher times, party leaders and the governor cut pork-heavy budget deals behind closed doors. To bring lawmakers on board—often at midnight on the final day of their legislative session— the budget included hundreds of their demands, from road improvements to new fire engines and playgrounds. Madigan said that spending, from both sides of the aisle, contributed to the financially-strapped position the state is in today.
To review: The state owes more than owes more than $4 billion in unpaid bills, has the lowest financial rating of any state and has an unfunded pension liability of about $85 billion, the worst of any state.