Illinois' credit faces a "sort of" do or die moment

Moody's Investor Service is weighing in again on Illinois financial crisis, threatening another downgrading of its credit rating if it doesn't do something to resolve its budget stalemate in a couple of months, Reuter's reports.

The credit rating agency said the state is at a "critical juncture," and failure to reach a budget consensus by the May 31 end of the legislative session would "signal deepening political paralysis, heightening the risk of creditor-adverse actions."

"This is sort of a do-or-die moment here with respect to the leaders in state government," Moody's analyst Ted Hampton said.

Hoo boy, yet another warning. And yet another instance of Illinois ignoring the threat. Except for Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has modified and compromised on his original demands for budget and economic reforms. House Speaker Mike Madigan and his Democrat cronies haven't given an inch.

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  • Moody's is kind of late. The legislature never passed a 2016-2017 budget. There was the stop gap appropriations bill that ran out Dec. 31, that was based on the supposition that after the Nov. election, the General Assembly would get to business. It didn't. Then there was the grand bargain that was supposed to pass in February. Someone put a fork into that and the legislature went into a Lincoln's Day recess which apparently continues to this day.

    The May 31st deadline is for the 2017-2018 budget to go into effect July 1. If the state is already $15 billion in the hole, how is Barbara Flynn Currie pull something out of her hat on May 29 (as she usually does) and get it passed? She couldn't even get the 2016-17 one passed in the State Senate by May 31, 2016.

  • Gov. Bruce Rauner "modified and compromised on his original demands for budget and economic reforms"? He just shortened his list of "nonnegotiable demands" for non-budget concessions. That's a little like a robber "compromising" by offering to harm only one person, rather than five.

  • In reply to jnorto:

    ....and Madigan and the House have compromised exactly what? Last I heard (to which Rauner seems to have assented) is lowering the Quinn era 5% income tax to 4.95% or 4.99%. Still more than the 3.75% to which the tax reverted.

  • In reply to jack:

    Do you really think that Illinois will get out of its current financial malaise by cutting its already low state income tax? Perhaps a good starting point would be for Rauner to propose a complete, realistic and balanced state budget as he is called upon to do under Article VIII, Section 2 of the Illinois Constitution.

  • In reply to jnorto:

    In that Rauner has indicated he is o.k. with a 4.99% income tax, and a services tax, there is no point in answering to a strawman.

    One can debate whether workers comp reform will get Illinois any closer to economic growth so as to balance the budget, but Madigan and Co. have passed appropriation bills without the guts to pass the taxes needed to make them balanced. You want to defend that?

  • In reply to jack:

    Appropriation bills are not the same as budgets, which must address income as well as appropriations. Where is Rauner's proposed budget?

  • In reply to jnorto:

    He's submitted 3.

    By saying "Appropriation bills are not the same as budgets" all you are doing is trying to give Madigan cover for violating Article VIII section 2(b) of the State Constitution:
    The General Assembly by law shall make
    appropriations for all expenditures of public funds by the
    State. Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed
    funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available
    during that year

    Note, that uses the term "appropriations," not "budget."

    Also note that the legislature didn't even pass a full year appropriation bill for 2016-2017. So you tell me who isn't doing their job.

    Kadner had a column in the Sun Times that neither side is doing its job. Don't try to foist a fantasy that the General Assembly is.

  • In reply to jack:

    Two points. First, how does the legislature estimate available funds when there is no budget?

    Second, nowhere have I suggested that Madigan or the general assembly are free of blame. Rather, I have attempted to show the fallacy you and Dennis Byrnes are promoting that Governor Rauner is innocent of causing Illinois' problems.

    Illinois has a dysfunctional government and I believe that both our executive and our legislative branches are at fault.

  • In reply to jnorto:

    Two strawmen: First: I just said the governor submitted 3 budgets. The legislature said they were dead on arrival. So ask Barbara Flynn Currie your question.

    Second: Ill. Const. Article IX section 1 says:
    The General Assembly has the exclusive power to raise revenue by law except as limited or otherwise provided in this Constitution....

    So if anyone should know what revenue the General Assembly is raising through its exclusive power, it should be the General Assembly. The Governor does not raise the revenue.

    Even given your last two paragraphs, somehow you have unwittingly stumbled upon that the General Assembly has failed to do its constitutional duties in at least two ways.Shame that the only remedy was the governor vetoing some appropriations in 2015, something he had the constitutional right to do.

  • I don't think you are right on Rauner's three budgets. This morning's Tribune has a lead article on Rauner's "Superstars" written by Kim Geiger. Writing about one of the wunderkind, Donna Arduin, Geiger writes "... Arduin drafted Rauner's first--and only--full budget proposal...." Geiger also reported on Rauner's veto of most of the Democrats' budget bill.

  • In reply to jnorto:

    So, you think WGN was wrong when it published on 2/15/17 Rauner began his third budget address Wednesday? Was the address "1270 E Jackson St
    Springfield, IL 62703"? That was a public event. I'm sure you can get copies of the budgets submitted with those requests if you wanted to.

    And as far as "Geiger also reported on Rauner's veto of most of the Democrats' budget bill" we discussed that above, and also that you claimed it was an appropriations bill rather than a budget bill. You can't have it both ways.

  • The winner, hands down: Jack. jnorto, it is so sad to see how your ideologically driven arguments fall short of being persuasive, or accurate.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Is a "budget address" a full budget?

    Sorry, guys, but I don't think the two of you will succeed in persuading the Illinois voters next year that Rauner is a saint and Madigan a sinner. The majority will vote on Rauner, but not on Madigan. Madigan will return, and with a Democratic General Assembly, but Rauner will not..

  • In reply to jnorto:

    As I said, you can get the documents. So why do you pose rhetorical questions?

    Nobody has said that Rauner is a saint. You seem to take some kind of joy in that not even Natural Causes can take care of Madigan for once and for all. Apparently 2 petition drives for term limits couldn't either.

  • In reply to jack:

    If you want to get rid of Madigan, what about trying the old fashioned way? Get his constituents to vote him out of office and get the constituents of his supporters in the House to do the same. And while you are doing this, you might try to find a candidate for governor who knows something about politics and knows how to include a budget in his budget address.

  • In reply to jnorto:

    Voting Madigan out isn't going to happen for obvious reasons, as you know. I've got a better question for you: Why should a few thousand voters on the Southwest Side and in the southwest suburbs be in a position to run the state of Illinois? I suppose the answer is the one we hear from Republicans regarding Trump: "Get over it Democrats; we won the election fair and square."

  • In reply to jnorto:

    I discussed this on HHH when he brought up the same chestnut. Dennis, though has adequately capsulized it.

    It didn't help the cause against Madigan that he ran slanderous ads against the only opposition he had. The guy is suing, although I don't know how it stands against the First Amendment. And I'm sure you would complain that Rauner and Proft PACs would be pouring too much money into that race.

  • In reply to jack:

    By the way, I like Eric Zorn's take on the "budget" contained in Rauner's latest budget address:

    "A quick look at page 30 of the budget book Rauner’s office released after the speech shows that his budget is “balanced” by sprinkling onto it a fairy-dust line item of “Grand Bargain” savings of $4.6 billion."

  • In reply to jnorto:

    Again, Zorn, if he says anything, says the obvious. Usually he doesn't say anything.

    But, again, you have just contradicted yourself on "Rauner never has submitted a budget." Circular arguments don't befit you.

  • Yes, Madigan will return, but will Illinois be any better off than it has been under his multi-decade leadership? What has Madigan proposed to solve the fiscal morass that he has led the state into?

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    So it might be better for Illinois to elect a governor who is capable of working with a strong legislative leader. Or would you prefer to continue with what we have experienced for the last three years?

  • In reply to jnorto:

    Pat Quinn proved he could roll over. Maybe approx. 500K voters who voted for Lisa Madigan and Jesse White, but crossed over to vote for Rauner had different ideas.

    Dealing with Madigan is dealing with the Freedom Caucus. You can negotiate all you want, but there isn't any compromise. Either knuckle under like Quinn or the dictator will kick you.

    But maybe you can convince Lisa that despite her protestations of conflict of interest, she can still be the governor.

    BTW, between Kennedy, Pritzker, Pawar, and maybe some downstate candidate, which one are you endorsing as most likely to bow down to the Emperor of Illinois/Duke of Mt. Greenwood?

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