Teachers should vacation in Springfield, tell lawmakers to get to work

Illinois leaders continue to play budget chicken. Guess who loses?
Illinois leaders continue to play budget chicken. Guess who loses? Illinois Policy Institute

Illinois’ state representatives and state senators are back in Springfield for a 10-day, last-ditch effort to get a state budget passed. Today is the halfway point, and there is little evidence that anything other than the usual partisan platitudes are coming out of the state capitol.

You know the why: A $15.2 billion bill backlog after three years of uncontrolled deficit spending, debt about to get more expensive as the state’s bond rating slips to “junk” status if we enter a third year without a budget, colleges hemorrhaging students and talented professors, millennials fleeing for job opportunities elsewhere, social services and charities crashing and burning with the state’s most vulnerable taking the impact.

Now this: State highway construction projects will halt on July 1 without a budget, meaning that August completion date for Illinois 15 may be a fantasy.

And this: Belleville Elementary School District 118 is running out of cash.

“Getting through that last half of September could be a challenge,” Assistant Superintendent Ryan Boike said.

Here’s an idea: Most educators are out for the summer, they may not get paid this fall, so maybe they should all head to Springfield.

Imagine thousands of teachers converging on the capitol building to pressure the lawmakers.

Lobby. Picket. Beat drums. Burn an effigy of whomever they see as the villain.

Then after lawmakers finally do their job and pass a balanced budget, teachers should head to the Lincoln sites so they can find some inspiration to take back to the classrooms when there is again money to open school.

The Lincoln lesson is this: Illinois’ leaders have blazed paths to effective governance in much worse conditions than anything faced today.

“Understanding the spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them.”