Dan's on the Money
Significant problems are bubbling just below the surface of the state budget as officials delay paying billions of dollars owed to doctors, pharmacists and more, according to a recent analysis.
Despite Gov. Rod Blagojevich's claims that the state's financial problems have largely been solved, the budget deficit grew by $500 million in fiscal 2005, topping $3 billion, according to the state comptroller. (Emphasis added)
That's largely because the state simply didn't pay more than $2.9 billion in medical bills that year. In essence, those expenses were pushed off to future years so the 2005 budget could be declared balanced.
"It is a problem, and it is growing," Comptroller Daniel Hynes said. "It's not harmless. Medicaid providers are the ones who suffer when we do this."
What I find more interesting though is a quote at the end of the article from John Filan, the Governor's Budget Director:
"I think year-to-year we're doing a better and better job, but we have to still correct the long-term structural deficit that's been here for more than 20 years," Filan said. (Emphasis added)
It is difficult to understand why so many people continue to put their heads in the sand on this issue. If people didn't like House Bill 750 (the tax swap bill proposed by Sen. Meeks), which among other things, addressed the structural deficit, fine. But then put another idea on the table for debate.
I had always maintained that I was open to other ideas of tackling these issues and envisioned HB750 being, at a minimum, a good device by which to foster debate and ideally a solution to a number of our critical issues. But instead, there were a whole lot of criticisms of the plan...and not much else. If there was another bill filed to directly deal with the structural deficit, I must have missed it. I don't think that I did.
If the energy that has been expended dealing with all of the nonsense that has been going on in this state for the last several years had been put toward fixing some of these very real problems, we would all be much better off for it.
I think the right transitional slogan would be to go from Illinois First to Illinoisans First.