CHICAGO – Illinois has been without a state budget for two years – meaning that there have been no budget cuts despite lower revenue, meaning the state's debt is filling a bigger and bigger pit every single day.
That's distressing for most Illinois taxpayers who are confused about what's going on, what's getting paid, what isn't getting paid and for the most part – most just don't really want to know.
Sort of like a cancer diagnosis – thinking maybe if we ignore the situation, it will correct itself or go away altogether.
However, now even Republican lawmakers won't promise to block more and more tax hikes after the November election. That means that while property taxes soar, a new service tax and a state income tax hike are on the way.
Almost as if both Republicans and Democrats want those of us that work hard everyday to pay taxes to just shut up and keep paying – and don't you dare express any outrage with their expenditures because we taxpayers just don't have enough sense to know how badly our dollars are needed to keep the state afloat.
Oh, and 70,000 vouchers remain unpaid. Imagine seeing that stack on your kitchen table.
Don't any elected officials care how taxpayers are finding enough after taxes to feed their kids, pay skyrocketing health care demands, higher gas prices, utility costs and on and on?
In the meantime, Adam Andrzejewski's American Transparency found time to dig through what exactly our lawmakers have been doing with our hard-earned tax dollars. And it's not pretty. Indeed, it's darned ugly.
The top 25 accounts paid by the Comptroller received $21.8 billion. The vast majority of the payments were for social safety-net healthcare providers ($5.9 billion); the Teachers Retirement System pension payment ($3.224 billion); Cook County ($2.7 billion); Chicago Board of Education ($2.1 billion); Regional Transportation Authority ($1.7 billion); and transfer payments to the state treasurer or banks.
Here are some of the entities receiving the large state payments in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016:
- Road contractors and construction companies ($1.4 billion) – 45 companies received more than $1 million. Here’s the top five: Plote Construction Inc. ($300.4 million); Lorig Construction Company ($225.4 million); Walsh Construction Co. ($151.9 million); D Construction Inc. ($147.5 million); and E T Simonds Construction Co. ($61.98 million).
- Cities and Villages ($6 billion) – Chicago received $1.7 billion. But even the uber-wealthy North Shore communities received tens of millions of dollars: Highland Park ($20.4 million); Wilmette ($9.3 million); Glencoe ($3.4 million); Lake Forest ($7.2 million); and Kenilworth ($421,200). My hometown of Hinsdale in DuPage County received $7.5 million.
- Counties ($4.3 billion) – Here are the top five: Cook County ($2.7 billion); DuPage County ($183.9 million); Lake County ($132.4 million); Will County ($98.5 million); and Kane County ($70.6 million).
Over the past two years, we’ve seen a patchwork of state budget stop-gap spending measures, federal and state court ordered disbursements, and the prioritization of state payments from the growing list of unpaid vendors.
Word is that doctors are starting to reject patients' insurance if it has anything to do with the state of Illinois because they don't pay their bills.
It's time to grow up and face the facts, folks. We're in deep doo-doo and there's no way out.