How to make Illinois’ 200th birthday a happy one

The Land of Lincoln will turn 200 on Aug. 26, 2018. There are a few gifts our state could use.
The Land of Lincoln will turn 200 on Aug. 26, 2018. There are a few gifts our state could use. Photo illustration

Guess who’s having a birthday? It’s us, Illinois, and we’re turning 200 in 2018. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner just formed a committee to plan the celebration, but here are a few ideas to get the party started.

A bicentennial is too big to celebrate with just one party. Let’s start by giving ourselves two parties, the blue party and the red party, and these parties could compete for attendance through their creativity and the life-changing experiences they deliver. We just need to make sure the blue party doesn’t spend all the money and post bouncers at the door to keep out everyone but state employees.

A birthday is nothing without presents, and there’s quite a long list of possibile gifts, but here are some top suggestions.

• Wisconsin or Nebraska should give us their state pension managers. Ours is underfunded by $195 billion, which would require a $37,400 tax bill for every worker in Illinois. Theirs are both close to fully funded.

• Belleville Elementary District 118 could send their “compassion meditation” counselors as a special gift to help members of the Illinois General Assembly work through their many issues. As troubled lawmakers chant their mantra, they would first focus on themselves, then on a friend, then on a stranger and finally on an enemy. Best to schedule an extra-long session for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan when he gets to that last part.

• Our newly compassionate through meditation state lawmakers in 2018 finally could give us a 2016 budget.

Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Kentucky could re-gift some of our jobs, though we know we don’t deserve them and we’re likely to lose them again — that is, unless the “compassion meditation” works. We’re certainly not going to ask Wisconsin, because we already asked for their state pension manager.

• Our native son of a president will be retiring home to Chicago by then, and promised to bring a $1 billion presidential library and museum — double what the previous guy spent in Texas. You could probably build a pretty decent shrine for $250 million and still raise that extra $750 million to help the Chicago Public Schools, which would be a gift to the rest of Illinois’ students if they are not forced to bail out Chicago.

Maybe the most important gift for Illinois is one we were already given about 161 years ago by the last president to hail from our great state.

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”

So there’s an early “happy birthday” wish to the Land of Lincoln.