Editorials

High price of failing to get your house in order

The house that Mike and John wrecked, then blamed on Bruce, the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.
The house that Mike and John wrecked, then blamed on Bruce, the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. AP

So Mike and John have lived in a house together for decades without ever visiting the basement. It’s pouring outside, but the roof’s not leaking too badly, so all is likely well, right?

They never cleaned or fixed the gutters, so the foundation’s been soaked for years. It’s crumbling badly. The basement’s flooded and rising.

Mike and John’s guests notice that the carpet is starting to squish when they walk, but the boys say they think the new roomate, Bruce, is to blame for spilling his soda. And wherever that wetness is coming from, well, it will dry on its own if you wait long enough, right? Hey, the sun has to come out eventually and the problems will fix themselves, right?

Last week Moody’s was the latest to tell Illinois that its bond rating is just three clicks above junk. State debt totaling $26.8 billion was lowered from A3 to Baa1, meaning borrowing will be harder and more expensive. In January investors paid $1.02 for bonds sold against the pension system, but now they can only get 93 cents on the dollar.

Earlier the state comptroller said the November pension payment of $560 million was being delayed. That prompted the Illinois State Employees Retirement System to ask for $100 million for November and $125 million for December — the largest cash advances the system has ever sought — so it can make sure 66,609 retirees and their survivors get their monthly checks. State pensions are $100 billion short, holding 39.3 percent of what they needed to meet obligations in 2014.

And the state’s backlog of unpaid bills now stands at $6.7 billion.

Illinois Held Hostage: Day 121 without a state budget. Could this be the day Mike and John ask Bruce for a little help on budgeting and repairs to the statehouse?

Right.

  Comments