Illinois is broke. — Gov. Bruce Rauner
Sad to say, this quoted headline — in nearly one and a half-inch tall type — greeted me this week as I picked up our local newspaper.
It’s no surprise that Illinois is in horrid fiscal shape.
The economy is struggling everywhere, but governors in other states aren’t announcing they’re broke. Businesses aren’t fleeing other states by the hundreds. Homes in other states aren’t going on the For Sale block right and left.
Illinois taxes and regulations are “burdensome.” Spending is way out of control. Worst of all, lawmakers are locked in a power struggle between a Republican governor and the Democrat-controlled Legislature — resulting in their failure to produce a state budget since the new fiscal year began in July 2015.
Don’t ask me how we’re paying bills. Individuals and businesses can’t operate long without funds; neither should the government.
Rather than grumbling, I’m going to offer a solution. It’s far too “out there” to fly, of course, but serious times call for serious measures.
(Hey, I won’t even charge for my expertise!)
Here’s what I’d do:
- Round up every last legislator — governor, too — and usher them into a big, windowless room.
- Take away their cell phones, tablets, computers, and other “toys” right at the door.
- Make sure this room has plenty of uncomfortable metal chairs and equally uncomfortable metal tables.
- Maybe I’d give them coffee, but certainly no food.
- Tell them the door will be locked…from the outside…and only opened when they’ve hammered out a budget.
I’m betting they’d get sick and tired of each other and their shenanigans pretty fast. And they’d do the job they were elected to do — that is, unless they relish sleeping on a cold, hard floor.
As an added incentive, if they decide to keep fighting, I’d tell them this: Fine. Every day, we’ll come in and randomly select one of you, pull him/her out, and strip him of his office.
No more interns. No more pension. No more salary or cushy perks. Hit the unemployment line like the rest of Illinois and see if you can make it.
You know, it just might work. What have we got to lose?