From the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board:
The new year brings still more menacing news to Illinois.
No, not just the chance that Democratic state reps will re-elect Michael Madigan speaker of the Illinois House.
No, not the end of a stopgap spending plan, the closest to a balanced state budget that Madigan and his minion, Senate President John Cullerton, can write.
No, not the continuing exodus from Illinois, with census numbers showing that 114,000 more people have fled.
No, today we bring fresher evidence of decline: Illinois now risks losing not one but two seats in Congress after the 2020 census. That'd be two fewer House members voting with national Democrats or Republicans, two fewer U.S. reps advocating for Illinois, two fewer politicians bringing home the bacon.
Walk through the numbers with us:
When Madigan was born 75 years ago this April, Illinois was a political juggernaut, boasting 27 seats in the U.S. House. Yet in recent decades as the growth-squelching, hostile-to-employers agenda of Madigan & Co. drives people to jobs-friendly states, that number of U.S. House seats has plummeted to 18. Now math wizards at RealClearPolitics say Illinois is one of only four states that would lose yet another seat if the next reapportionment occurred today; that is, Illinois' count would drop to 17. It gets worse: RCP says the dire population pattern suggests that "Illinois is close to losing a second seat" after the 2020 census.
Not that Illinois' most clouted pol appears to care that his state is bleeding. What does Madigan suffer as, year after year, expats take their talents, their incomes and their futures elsewhere? Nor do Madigan and Cullerton, with their combined 84 years in Springfield (in 2017 they'll make it 86 years!) confess their deep complicity in this once-proud state's humiliating fall.
Their Illinois model of government — ruinously spending and borrowing so that every Tomorrow has to pay for Yesterday and Today — creates pension and other policies that devastate more than state government alone. There's Chicago Public Schools, a district gravely overstretched. And Chicago's indebted City Hall. And suburban and downstate local governments terrified of their pension time bombs. And school districts that let their personnel costs spiral upward. And universities that never had to balance spending with productivity. And ...
Yet for Madigan and Cullerton, history begins anew every morning. They want no consequences for the decisions they've made, including the sweetheart pension deals that have driven Illinois taxpayers' unfunded obligation to $130 billion. Nope, Madigan & Co. aren't responsible, all of this just happened on their watch. We've noted that the Greek philosopher Diogenes, searching for an honest pol, could scour Springfield and not hear the words, "All in all, my tenure has been just a disaster for Illinois."
That brings us to the Madigan plan for 2017, which opens with no state budget, no more six-month stopgap, nothing.
Madigan remains in denial that angry voters who wanted change in Springfield elected Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, now completing his second year in office. So the Madigan agenda is more failure, more gridlock, followed by the restoration of the governorship to Democratic control in 2018. So as Rauner offers an evolving menu of possible budget deals, Madigan delays and offers nothing. Never mind all the disadvantaged people and social service organizations that get hurt. Madigan knows the clock is running...
…Madigan surely sees the danger in Illinois hemorrhaging population: All of us know families saddened over the loss of children and grandchildren to states with more prosperous economies, more job opportunities — and not so many gazillions in taxpayer debts.
The possible loss of two more seats in Congress merely ties it all together: Mike Madigan's Illinois is fading away.
We wonder: Will Democratic state reps re-elect Madigan as their speaker? Will they doom themselves to the punishing attacks that would follow such a vote?
Or will they look at a shrinking Illinois, witness the Madigan agenda of "No! Just no!" and instead elect a speaker who will help rebuild this state?