ILLINOIS MISSES A ‘GOLDEN’ OPPORTUNITY FOR CHANGE
Illinois has failed to capitalize on a “golden” opportunity to pass truly effective campaign finance reform, which would have been appropriate following the scandal and public outcry that followed Blagojevich’s arrest, impeachment and removal from office.
Governor Quinn and majority Democrats have left Blagojevich’s programs and policies in place—including programs that led to his impeachment and removal.
A year later, the state’s budget woes are as bad as ever, with Medicaid providers and state vendors waiting months to receive payment for their products and services rendered.
And, although Governor Quinn vowed to “fumigate” state government, many of Blagojevich’s top employees remain employed in state government.
STATE’S BOND RATING DOWNGRADED AGAIN
On December 8, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Illinois’ general obligation debt from A1 to A2.
This is the 9th downgrade or downward outlook from a credit rating agency since May 2003.
Illinois now has the dubious distinction of being known as the second worst-rated state behind California, as determined by all three credit rating agencies, which include Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. This reflects negatively on the state of Illinois’ creditworthiness, and is an independent comment on the abysmal condition of the state’s finances.
The downgrade, according to Moody’s, was influenced by Illinois’ budget imbalance, which Moody’s put at an $11.6 billion budget deficit, and state government’s failure to take action to fix Illinois’ budget gap in time to reverse the trend of financial decline.
The financial ratings firm noted that some of the state’s major challenges, aside from the “high structural imbalance,” include “revenue shortfalls and spending pressures,” which lead to “narrow operating fund liquidity”; payment delays and a “reliance on inter-year borrowing”; and the state’s overwhelming pension debt and its obligation to pay retiree health care benefits.
QUINN BLAMES THE RECESSION
Though Governor Quinn blamed the ratings downgrade on the national recession and struggling economy, as well as the policies advanced by the Blagojevich Administration, Moody’s said the state’s financial descent was exacerbated by political infighting that “prevented timely budget adoption and led to other negative outcomes.”
Governor Quinn can criticize the previous administration all he wants, but he and majority Democrats are not doing much to reverse any of Blagojevich’s programs and policies.