Thursday, June 23, 2005


LOSERS OF THE MONTH: Illinois Children

From the Tribune:
Gov. Rod Blagojevich on [June 10] signed a roughly $55 billion budget he crafted with Democratic leaders for the fiscal year that begins in July.

The budget is based on a controversial move to spend $2.2 billion that was supposed to go to pensions for teachers and state workers. Instead, that money will help send an additional $300 million to public schools and prevent service cuts to state programs and to the Chicago Transit Authority.
Long-time readers know -- and new readers have probably figured-out -- that I am an unapologetically liberal and I believe that some things should be publicly funded.

I love public radio and public television. I am the product of public schools and I am a true believer in public transportation.

But I also believe in public service and public stewardship. And it is neither public service nor public stewardship to borrow money from Illinois' children in order to avoid politically painful decisions today.

What will the future cost be to Illinois children? No one knows for sure.

Now, I disagree with State Sen. Steven J. Rauschenberger (R-Elgin) on most things, but his numbers are usually pretty close to right. Rauschenberger's numbers say that the long term cost of the $2 billion borrowed from our children will be $25 billion. And Rauschenberger's numbers aren't the most pessimistic -- they range up to "$38.5 billion over the next 40 years."

Are these numbers accurate? I don't know. But I do know two things for certain:

First, I haven't seen any alternate numbers that in anyway convince me that it was a good idea to borrow against our future. If the long-term number is actually less than $25 billion, give me that number!

But no one has.

Second, I know that the budget proponents have said that the budget plan will impose some "modest pension reforms" that will save $70 billion in future costs that would cover the $25-$38 short-fall.

Now I'm a slow-learner, but I have figured out that future debts are certain and future savings are rarely, if ever, realized.

I hope that the future savings from "modest pension reforms" do cover the money that the 2006 budget borrows from our kids, but I sure won't count on it. And that's why I have named my kids -- and your kids -- losers of the month.

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