Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Gross mismanagement

In Springfield this afternoon, we saw a carnival barker pull the remaining props from his sack of flimflammery. Sadly, we are talking about Governor Rod Blagojevich and not some huckster at the state fair.

Since he became governor in 2003, Blagojevich has stopped paying every bill he could, and borrowed every dollar the General Assembly allowed him. That was his solution for dealing with a bad financial situation. Throw some of the bills in the trash and take out long-term loans instead of digging in, reducing spending and making tough choices.

He supplemented his "plan" by raising more than 300 fees on business. The result was a state economy that lagged all others in the Midwest during the national recovery. Because he raised so much campaign money, he was able to paper over his financial mismanagement to win re-election last year. But instead of entering a second term coming out of a financial hole, he's placed all of us in Illinois more subterranean than ever.

So today, deeper in debt than ever, he did what comes intuitively to him and counter-intuitively to anyone with an ounce of common sense: He proposed a 9. 5 percent spending increase. It would be like a family deep in debt deciding to take out another loan to buy a Mercedes. A centerpiece of the plan is a $16 billion loan, which surpasses the record $10 billion loan Blagojevich took out in 2003.

He is proposing the largest tax increase ever in Illinois—$6 billion in a new "gross receipts" tax and another $1 billion in a new payroll tax. He also wants to lease the tollway to a private contractor. All this to pay back pension bills, increase school funding and provide health insurance for all Illinois citizens.

It doesn't take an economic genius to figure out that this plan would be like declaring war on jobs, growth and vitality for years to come in Illinois. The fallout from the nuclear bomb would last decades and would immediately improve the business climate in every state surrounding Illinois that will gladly welcome the fleeing businesses from the Land of Lincoln.

Any Republican…any Democrat for that matter who votes for any part of this blueprint for financial ruin ought to be deemed unfit for office and removed immediately. There is enough money moving around here to keep three generations of federal prosecutors busy finding all the corruption that will ensue.

Legislators should reject this entire mess and do what they can to muddle by for a year or two. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will have dismantled the administration by then and the carnival will have left town.

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