Illinois' Legislature Sits Backs and Lets the Courts Do All the Work

Scott Reeder, from the Illinois News Network, shared an update on Illinois' continuing two-and-a-half-month-long budget standoff, saying that at this point, the legislative branch of Illinois' state government handed over the majority of governing to the judicial branch.

SPRINGFIELD - It seems everyone is mad at the state of Illinois.

And one of the hottest is Danny Chasteen, who in July won $250,000 in the Illinois Lottery but, so far, has had to settle for an IOU.

The factory foreman from Oglesby is none too happy.

"When you buy a winning lottery ticket, you ought to get paid," Chasteen told me. "I paid $5 for that ticket and had to look at it four times before I convinced myself that I had just won $250,000. And then I got a call from the lottery department and was told they can't pay me until the state passes a budget."

So Chasteen has made a federal case out of it. He is suing the state.

A judge will decide whether the state should start forking over the dough.

An unfortunate part of the budget impasse our state now faces is that it's judges - not lawmakers - who are deciding how tax dollars are being spent.

That's not the way things are supposed to work.

In June, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed most of the budget passed by the state legislature because it was $4 billion out of balance.

Since then, we have had a constant tug-of-war between the state's chief executive and the legislative leaders.

And we have been without a budget.

A judge has stepped in and said state employees must get paid.

And judges are enforcing a dozen other agreements regarding funding for state programs. And more lawsuits are being filed asking judges to order more spending.

In fact, state Comptroller Leslie Munger said last week between the court orders, numerous judicial agreements and some statutory requirements, the state is fulfilling 90 percent of its financial obligations.

And we are also going broke one court order at a time.

The Illinois General Assembly is supposed to be a deliberative body that sets priorities and develops policy.

Instead we have seen lots of posturing but not much action.

The Legislature is allowing other branches of government to do the heavy lifting.

When the General Assembly passed a budget billions of dollars out of whack, they whined that the governor vetoed it rather than try to make cuts on his own.

And increasingly lawmakers have sat back and watched the judicial branch do their job for them by authorizing spending.

And what have legislators been doing?

Looking busy, but accomplishing little.

Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.

The Better Government Association's Andy Shaw highlighted another blight on government that has touched Illinois and national circles:

There's an epidemic in this country, and it's not the latest flu.

This one is government secrecy: From federal agencies to local offices and everywhere in between, the public sector is making it harder and harder to obtain information under open records laws, even as advances in technology should be making it easier.

Some governmental entities do a good job of putting documents they want to release online, but when it comes to really important stuff--things they don't want us to see--we're often in for a fight.

Read the rest of Shaw's thoughts at Reboot Illinois.