“We’ve reached a critical juncture for our own state finances,” said Governor JB Pritzker said in September about the state’s finances.
Say, haven’t we heard that “critical juncture” thing before?
Why, yes, you have (if you’ve been a Wirepoints reader).
In 2014, S&P, which rates the state’s credit, said Illinois was at a critical juncture.
This was our comment at the time: “‘Critical Juncture’? Hell, we were at that 15 years ago. That’s the same vacuous phrase Quinn used in his State of the State address two years ago.”
But Governor Pat Quinn at least stated the alternatives correctly in that State-of-the-State speech. Fix pensions or else, he said:
This is a choice about whether we will make the tough decisions necessary to balance our budget by reforming our public pension systems or whether we will let our jobs, our safety and our schools be squeezed out by skyrocketing pension costs.
Backwards we’ve gone since then. No pension reform, and Pritzker refuses even to discuss it.
The result? Since Quinn said that the state’s unfunded pension liability has jumped about 40%. Thanks largely to pension problems, the state hasn’t truly balanced its budget since 2001. We’ve been ranked the least tax-friendly state in the U.S., had straight years of population loss, etc.
Will we once again ignore our latest critical juncture or paper it over with cosmetics and can-kicks? Maybe, and deeper into the abyss we will go.
This article was updated to correct the first paragraph which earlier said that Pritzker’s comments were on Wednesday, not earlier.