How Obama learned to love big government
Winningreen Issue Alert A062311
Creating scores of tax-squandering bureaucracies an Illinois specialty
By Gretchen Randall
Date: June 23, 2011
Issue: True, Barack Obama wasn’t raised in Illinois but he lived here long enough to learn the Chicago Way and the Illinois way of big government. For example, Illinois has 8500 units of government which is the most in the nation according to the Chicago Tribune — everything from city and county governments to drainage districts, library boards and cemetery boards — and there is no effort to reduce these taxing districts or even consolidate them.
One southern Illinois county (Massac) has a tuberculosis board which collects $50,000 each year from residents (and has $220,000 in its fund) yet treats only one or two patients every couple of years. (Tuberculosis is almost eradicated in the U.S. and patients today are treated as outpatients making the need for facilities unnecessary except in Massac County, Illinois.) In unincorporated Cook County there is a board of three women whose only job is to maintain 40 streetlights along a one mile stretch of road. The Chicago suburb of Orland Hills has a public library board with no library. Residents’ tax money goes to a neighboring town’s shared library. However, the Orland Hills board still managed to spend $5000 on “appreciation dinners” for themselves over the last few years.
Illinois also has 323 boards and commissions, whose members are often appointed by the governor and many who receive salaries. For instance, the Pollution Control Board “defines and implements environmental control standards in Illinois.” Its chairman receives $121,040 per year and the four other members each receive salaries of $117,043 totaling $589,212.00. The Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates public utilities, has four members earning $117,043 per year with the chairman making $134,02 totaling $602,194.00. The Human Rights Commission has 12 members appointed by the governor, each making $46,960 a year, the chairman $52,179 totaling $615,699. That’s $1.8 million in salaries for just three boards. Not all members of commissions receive salaries but are reimbursed for expenses which are not detailed.
Obama also has learned budgeting gimmicks from Springfield. The 2012 budget approved by the state legislature spends less than the $36 billion Governor Quinn requested but about 2% more than last year – hardly a way to be fiscally responsible. The budget doesn’t provide for paying $4 billion in outstanding bills to businesses, hospitals and nursing homes including unpaid Medicaid bills. In other words, Illinois did not use additional tax revenue from the 67% increase in the state income tax imposed last December to pay its debts. Instead, the state increased its spending to match the projected revenue increase. Sounds similar to what President Obama’s budget proposes: a federal deficit of $1.65 trillion this fiscal year, with the total debt doubling from $13.5 trillion in 2010 to $26.3 trillion by 2021 and a tax increase on “wealthy Americans.”
Comment: “Illinois is really kind of a poster child for excessive governing bodies,” according to David Hamilton, director of the Texas Tech University public administration program. (Chicago Tribune)
Comment: Until Americans, including Illinoisans, demand smaller government at all levels, we will continue to pay the price in higher taxes, falling economic times and eroding national power.
Comment: Now you know where the White House Czars came from.
Background and links: Read “Tiny taxing districts with limited duties scattered across Illinois” at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-your-tax-dollars-20110620,0,5859267.story Find out more about Illinois’ commissions at: http://appointments.illinois.gov/appointmentsListing.cfm
Contact: Gretchen Randall