By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner

Read Wirepoints’ companion piece: Illinois’ crisis: 20 facts Pritzker doesn’t want ordinary Illinoisans to know

It’s usually good to follow the rule “don’t shoot the messenger.” This time, however, the messenger should catch a lot of grief. 

The messenger in question is Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes and the boss he’s working for is Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Hynes just authored a new report in preparation for Pritzker’s upcoming budget address. He says Rauner drove the state “into a ditch.” He blames Rauner for just about everything that’s wrong with Illinois, from unpaid bills to budget deficits to struggling social services. From the report, you would think Illinois’ troubles didn’t start until Rauner took office.

There’s one big problem, though. Hynes himself declared that Illinois was already in crisis a decade ago. 

That was back during the Quinn administration when Hynes was Illinois Comptroller. “Obscene” is what he said about the state’s unpaid bill crisis. “Triage” and avoiding “outright disaster” is how he described the state budget. In fact, Hynes even accused Gov. Quinn of using the same Blagojevich “gimmicks that got us into the crisis we’re in right now.”

Some might try and dismiss Hynes’ previous language as the exaggerated talk of a politician. He was, after all, running in the Democratic primary against Quinn at the time.

That’s exactly our point. Hynes’s talk was political then and it’s political now. He’s not just a messenger. We cover this in detail in our latest piece: Illinois’ crisis: 20 facts Pritzker doesn’t want ordinary Illinoisans to know.

For the record, we agree that Rauner’s four years were a failure and that the Rauner/Madigan impasse made things worse for Illinoisans. We covered that here.

But Illinois was a dysfunctional, near-bankrupt mess before Rauner took office. Hynes wants you to forget that. He’s hoping to take advantage of Illinoisans’ dislike of the former governor to rewrite history for his boss’ benefit. If he’s successful, then Pritzker’s “solutions” – a collection of tax hikes, pension bonds and new spending – will become that much easier to push through.

Read some excerpts on how Hynes described Illinois’ crisis during his time as Comptroller:

From the New York Times in 2010Illinois Stops Paying Its Bills, but Can’t Stop Digging Hole

[Mr. Hynes] picks the papers off his desk and points to a figure in red: $5.01 billion. “This is what the state owes right now to schools, rehabilitation centers, child care, the state university — and it’s getting worse every single day,” he says in his downtown office. Mr. Hynes shakes his head. “This is not some esoteric budget issue; we are not paying bills for absolutely essential services,” he says. “That is obscene.”


Mr. Hynes walked into his child’s elementary school recently and learned that kindergarten hours were being cut because of the state budget. “Everything is triage now,” he said. “We work to avoid outright disaster.”


In past years, when nonprofits needed credit lines to see themselves through tough budget times, the comptroller issued letters assuring banks that vendors would be paid. Not anymore. “I don’t feel comfortable doing that,” he said, adding with a shrug, “I mean, who knows, right?”

From the Pantagraph in 2009Comptroller: State deficit could hit $9 billion

As Gov. Pat Quinn prepares his plan for Illinois’ money troubles, he could be staring down a state budget hole that could end up an unprecedented $9 billion deep.

That number could be double the deficit Illinois faced when former Gov. Rod Blagojevich took office in 2003, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes said Wednesday. “These are very disturbing figures,” Hynes said.

From Bloomberg in 2010Illinois Financial Health Grows Worse, Comptroller Hynes Says

Illinois’s deteriorating financial condition threatens to swallow up more than half its general- fund budget in the next fiscal year, Comptroller Dan Hynes said.

The financial picture drawn by Hynes in a report yesterday projects a fiscal 2012 deficit of $15 billion or more, while this year’s budget calls for $26 billion in spending. The state’s financial condition “continues to deteriorate,” Hynes said, citing a 36 percent surge in fiscal 2010 bills to be paid from current-year revenue.

Payments to vendors who do business with the state will continue to be delayed, beyond “the historic levels seen recently,” and may not be made until December, according to Hynes’s report. The state has unpaid bills dating back to March.

“This will lead to more providers facing financial hardship and further threaten both the level and quality of services provided to Illinois citizens,” Hynes said.

From the Daily Herald in 2009 – Hynes: State needs to cut back government to ’05 levels

If Illinois is going to balance its budget, leaders need to cut back state government to 2005 staffing levels…These were some steps for eliminating a potential $10.5 billion budget deficit State Comptroller Dan Hynes laid out Monday during a visit to the Rotary Club of Elgin.

From National Public Radio in 2010 – Illinois Governor Confronts Budget Woes

Schaper: And Msall says because Illinois’ politicians haven’t significantly raised revenue or cut spending in years, the state is now borrowing even more to pay operating expenses. By some measures, only California is in worse fiscal shape than Illinois. Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes is the state official waiting for enough money to pay the state’s bills. He’s also a Democratic primary challenger to Governor Pat Quinn. Hynes charges that Quinn’s budget is eerily similar to those of his reckless predecessor Rod Blagojevich.

Mr. Dan Hynes (Comptroller, State of Illinois): These are the same types of gimmicks that got us into the crisis we’re in right now. And they’re just being repeated.

Read Wirepoints’ companion piece: Illinois’ crisis: 20 facts Pritzker doesn’t want ordinary Illinoisans to know

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Well if he could he would blame trump also All theses democrates hvae drained the states by lining there own pockets and making crooked deals making them and there political parties rich all while steeling from the resedents of ILL.THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR YEARS.FROM BIG GOVERMENT ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE CITY LEVELS.

1 year ago

What will the Chicago and state Pravda’s parrot to the proletariat?

1 year ago
Reply to  jeff

Lol. When you can’t provide any facts or a reasonable agreement, you throw out name calling. This tactic doesn’t work on an intelligent, rational population…..meaning it won’t work here. However, I’d love to hear a reasoned, fact based refutation of anything said here. People can and do play with numbers and if so, they should be called out on it.

1 year ago
Reply to  Marcia

Marcia, I am not sure if I understood your comment correctly, but please do read the companion piece to this. It covers 20 facts that refute Hynes’ report he put out on behalf of the Pritzker administration. Here is our piece:

1 year ago
Reply to  ted dabrowski

Maybe I misunderstood Jeff’s comment about Pravda. I thought he was trying to refute claims made on wire points with name calling. I want him to make any refutation based on facts. I personally believe what you publish. Sometimes numbers can be “slanted” for a narrative (and I’m not saying that you are doing that). When numbers are slanted, I like to hear if and how that happens. If Jeff can justify his name calling this way, I’d like to hear it.

1 year ago
Reply to  Marcia

Thanks, Marcia. For sure. What numbers are presented, how they are presented, etc., make a huge difference in the story they tell. We welcome challenges to the numbers we present. We need to be able to defend them.

mark mc
1 year ago
Reply to  Ted Dabrowski

Ted – lots of respect for your facility with numbers and associated data, and of course I acknowledge the need to defend conclusions based on the numbers and data, which you very capably are prepared to do. One thing that bothers me, however, about the apparatchiks who support the political class in Illinois is that the numbers in Illinois are so awful I can’t imagine anyone reasonable making the argument that the status quo is anything but an unmitigated, intractable disaster, or alternatively, making any reasonable argument that raising taxes makes sense. I see, lets give more money to the… Read more »