Saturday, August 25, 2007

Illinois Has A Budget, Kind Of

After a month and a half of not paying Illinois state workers, schools, hospitals, and such, the governor has finally gotten around to approving at least enough of the budget to start paying people and institutions again. This, of course, was not without a large number of cuts to local improvement projects and educational grants to make room for a pricey health care initiative that the governor would have really liked to see go through.

Also left on the budget for the state was, not surprisingly, the pay raises for the governor and the state legislature. He decided that there was no way the budget could support $50,000 for a nursing home or $25,000 for improvements to an animal shelter, but they could find some play room for his $20,000 a year pay increase. Because, you know, they raised the minimum wage a dollar for the state, and they can't bear to have the wage gap narrow that much. I mean, if a convenience store clerk's pay has gone up from $12,000 a year to $14,000 it does seem unfair that the governor still makes only a paltry $155,000 a year. Surely his pay simply must go up nearly one and a half times the minimum wage worker's annual salary to correct this discrepancy.

By way of explanation, Governor Blagodude was quoted as saying
"A budget should reflect the priorities of the people who elected us to make their lives better." My priority is not for you to get a pay raise, asshat! Especially when you and your legislature can't even approve the budget on time. I mean, Christ, it's not like this thing was dropped on your lap yesterday. You know when it's coming up; get on it! "Blagojevich spokeswoman Rebecca Raush defended the pay raises, saying they were a top priority for many lawmakers."
I'm certain it was.

Of course the governor cut these proposals fairly and impartially by weighing their importance and significance to the community and the necessity of the programs they were to fund, and choosing wisely to only cut the items proposed by Democrats, regardless of their importance, because that seemed totally fair. Basically, the Democratic governor is not very well-liked by state Republicans who cite that he is, in fact, "an idiot," so he knew that he had to do something to win support for his controversial new health care initiative that I know nothing about, but I'm sure is on the Internet somewhere if you're interested. Knowing this, he decided to win the favor of Republicans by essentially bribing them and the lawmakers on the panel to approve his program with their own pork-barrel projects while cutting everyone else's to make room. You know, when you're already hated by state Republicans, it's important for your continued support that you alienate everyone in your own party as well.

House Speaker Michael Madigan's office is investigating the governor's actions, which will probably result in nothing, as it always does when a government official does something seemingly duplicitous. Governor Blagojevich simply played politics in place of sound reason when vetoing budget items, solely to make money and gain support for his own initiatives. It's no way to run a government, and hopefully lawmakers will see through his ruse. I mean, if his health care proposal is actually good, then it should go through, but if he has to resort to such extremes to bribe state lawmakers to approving his bill, then perhaps he deep-down secretly knows it's more of a benefit to his resumé than it is to the state.

Remember, Bush enacted the "No Child Left Behind" Act, which had been proven to have failed in his home state and continues to fail now on a national level, just so he could add to his legacy one more initiative that looks good on paper, so we can't necessarily trust that any proposal from a governing official is worthwhile just because he stands behind it in the face of nearly unanimous disapproval.

Blagojevich is walking on thin egg shells right now anyway. From what I recall last year, he wasn't too particularly well-liked in the state to begin with and the primary reason he was voted into a second term was because the alternative was the state treasurer under former governor George Ryan, who is currently in prison for racketeering and bribery, and no one could trust her for two obvious reasons. One, she was handling the state funds while the governor was involved in money scandals, and two, she seemed, by all accounts, speeches, and interviews, to be completely batshit insane. So we voted in the devil we knew, and so far it has gotten us a minimum wage pay hike, but has heavily penalized smokers and now this. It seems that the controversial governor just can't do anything without inciting more controversy for himself. Maybe that's why he seems to either look like he's
remorseful or apologizing in every newspaper picture I see of him.

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