The state of Illinois is in serious trouble. After not passing a budget for more than two years, the Democratic controlled state legislature recently pushed through a $5 billion-dollar state income tax increase, overriding the governor’s veto in the process. The increase makes Illinois’ state income tax among the highest in the nation, joining their already ridiculously high property tax rates. And all that just to pass a balanced budget, a requirement of the state constitution. This allowed the Comptroller to begin paying the over $15 billion in past due vendor payments. Interest on the past due bills alone total over $800 million.
In addition to their short-term budget crisis, the state has unfunded pension obligations of over $100 million, the highest in the nation, and recently narrowly avoided a “junk” credit rating.
It isn’t just the state’s governmental accounting woes that are a problem, either. The state’s economy is currently growing at a pace slower than even during the great depression.
In a measure sure to add insult to injury, Illinois Policy reports:
“Illinois’ biggest government-worker union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is engaged in contract negotiations with the state in an attempt to boost its salaries and benefits. As part of its negotiation tactics, AFSCME claims its “middle class” benefits are under attack. That’s why union officials are demanding up to $3 billion in salary and benefits for union members.”
Yes, you read that correctly. During the state’s worst economic growth since the great depression, less than a month after the legislature raised taxes $5 billion just to balance the budget, the largest public union in the state is demanding $3 billion in raises to salary and benefits.
Sound ridiculous? You haven’t even heard the best part yet. Public employees in the state of Illinois are already the highest paid public employees in the country. They receive Cadillac health care benefits, many of them receive free health insurance in retirement, and the average public worker gets $1.6 million out of their plan in retirement.
Moreover, Illinois Policy shows that while private sector earnings have remained flat over the past 12 years, public sector workers earnings have risen over 40%.
All this while marching and picketing with signs that read “Fair Contract.” Fair to who? Fair to the public employees or fair to the state of Illinois taxpayers?
To his credit, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed a number of reforms that would bring public employee costs more in line with private sector costs. He is being fought at every turn by a public employee union that is content to continue fleecing Illinois taxpayers, pushing an already economically decimated state to the verge of bankruptcy.