With a looming state budget deficit of nearly $13 million, many Illinois residents are wondering if their state has its priorities in order. Last night, ABC7 Chicago’s Chuck Goudie revealed $67 million in recent state payments (PDF) for a variety of pet projects. While the state wrestles with the ramifications of such a huge budget shortfall, many wonder why payments continue for the sort of spending exposed in Goudie’s report. Among the expenses:
Wilmette received $130,000 to build this bike path that was just one block long. Evanston got a check for $187,000 to repave these basketball and tennis courts. “The people of Alsip welcome you” and nearly $19,000 your state dollars to help pay for the sign outside Village Hall. And Cicero received $77,000 in final funding for a graffiti blaster and 2,500 new anti-rat trash cans.
Northbrook got $13,000 for gazebo repairs. Woodstock received almost $19,000 toward a new opera house sound system. And the Valentine Boys and Girls Club in Bridgeport got $75,000 to shore up these totem poles and some brickwork.
But there are some voices in the state pushing back against this sort of spending.
“It’s a question of who’s standing up and saying ‘enough, we can’t afford these kinds of things,'” said Cindi Canary, Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
“Clearly we’re busted but this is almost like a month ago, we were feeling kind of flush, took our credit card, went to the mall, went a little crazy, now it’s the end of the month and we don’t have food on the table…but we still have to pay that bill,” Canary.
When faced with all this spending, observers are left with one of two options. Either Illinois politicians aren’t taking the problem seriously, or Illinios really isn’t that bad off. Goudie seems to provide the answer:
In London Wednesday, CMA, the credit information company, put out its rankings of governments most likely to default on loans. Venezuela was first, followed by Greece and Argentina. Iraq was sixth. Illinois was eighth.