If you’re looking for any moves to conserve cash at any level of government in Illinois, forget it. Unlike most private sector companies that have implemented harsh spending reductions, we haven’t seen even the slightest discussion of that for Illinois government.
Governor JB Pritzker was asked Monday, “What steps are being taken to shore up state spending in anticipation of the crater of state revenues? Is your administration implementing any cutback of services or staff reductions?”
He ducked any concrete answer about steps to save cash. Here is how he answered:
First of all, this is, I mean it’s unprecedented in terms of the state even compared to 2008-2009, the revenue shortfall, the things that we’re having to do to address this, you know is creating a gap that I don’t think anybody could have anticipated. So we are looking very hard at what we need to do to get the revenues and expenditures in line with one another. I think a lot of it is going to depend upon the federal government I mean there’s just no one else who can step in the, you know, to help our state finances, the way that the federal government can. The truth is we are going to need more, every state is going to need more because every state’s revenues have cratered.
A federal bailout. That’s really all he had to offer.
It won’t happen. Yes, cities and states likely will get significant help from the treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank, but it won’t be enough for Illinois and most of its municipalities that were in death spirals of their own making long before the pandemic. Lawmakers from properly managed states almost certainly won’t authorize aid that is not proportional based on population and, in any event, the aid likely won’t be enough even to cover costs of containing the virus and revenue reduction from the downturn. Hopefully, Washington will also condition help on reform for the states that need it, as we have written, reforms Illinois so far has refused.
As for Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot seems truly delusional. She said last week the city was fully prepared for the crisis. And the Chicago Sun-Times has an editorial that basically says spending cuts wouldn’t matter for Chicago because it is so broke, it needs spending stimulus and Chicago can look to Washington for a bailout of at least $1 billion. We expect Congress, especially the Senate, will say cut spending, make reforms or drop dead, Chicago.
A tiny ray of hope emerged Monday at least for Cook County when a Crain’s article said county HR officials sent an email Friday suggesting employees jobs and pay could shift after April 30. But board President Toni Preckwinkle declined on Wednesday to commit to anything.
Illinois is banking on a fairy tale.