Madigan's reform aversion described as tragic misstep
House Speaker Mike Madigan's (D-Chicago) unwavering refusal to consider financial reforms is "part of the tragedy of our lifetimes," a Chicago attorney posted recently.
Eugene Keefe, a partner at Keefe, Campbell, Biery and Associates, detailed his belief that the new state budget will lead to more failure and that most of the blame lay at Madigan's feet.
"The problem I have with Speaker Madigan’s point of view is the multi-billion-dollar financial problems occurred on his watch while he played a leading role in creating his impossible-to-stop power base that was built on skyrocketing compensation for all IL state gov’t workers, unmanageable fake gov’t pensions and duplicative/wasteful use of our tax dollars," Keefe wrote. "I feel our IL State WC defense program for State workers continues to be run poorly in part due to the role of Speaker Madigan."
Keefe is among those contending that the imposition of a 32 percent income tax hike without regard for the state's mounting pension debt spells ruin, if not now then down the road.
"In my view, our great-great-great-grandchildren will be paying off the mistakes of this generation of IL legislative leaders for decades to come," Keefe said. "If Speaker Madigan wants real and lasting reform to cut spending and waste, combine/streamline state agencies and make financial sense of IL State government, go-for-it--he doesn’t need the Governor’s help; no one can stop him. To me, it is part of the tragedy of our lifetimes he won’t do it and may be dedicated to blocking any real IL gov’t reform while taxes and debt spiral."
Keefe argued that even in areas that promise some hope, like an evidence-based school funding model, state legislators blunder.
"The new budget increases funding for K-12 education over FY17 levels by approximately $700M, relying on a more equitable school funding formula that benefits low-income school districts like Chicago's," Keefe wrote. "(But) A drafting glitch in the budget regarding school funding will require lawmakers to return to Springfield before the school year starts next month.
Keefe praised Gov. Bruce Rauner for his attempts at compromise and vetoing the budget measures, even though they were passed with a General Assembly override. None of the reforms he wanted were instituted, Keefe wrote.
"Consequently, it is expected Governor Rauner may again be calling our General Assembly back to Springfield later this month to see if we can develop reforms to gov’t pensions; state employees' group health insurance; procurement; a real estate property tax freeze; workers' compensation reform and term limits," Keefe posted.