The utter nonsense in Springfield will continue until real people begin to suffer. That is when voters in Illinois will finally demand that the high-and-mighty governor and speaker choose to find common ground.
It is hard to overstate how dire this state’s fiscal situation is. But dire is not the same as complex. Revenues are too low after the expiration of the “temporary” income tax hike. Expenses are still too high and the brick wall of our failed pension charade is about 6 inches in front of our collective and soon-to-be-smushed face.
The pain for real people is imminent. This week we report that the Progress Center for Independent Living, based right here on Madison, will close its doors by the close of October if state funds do not begin to flow. This agency, which provides essential services to adults with a range of disabilities, receives 90 percent of its funds from the state. It has not received a penny since July 1.
A month from now it will run through its remaining financial reserves, its staff will be laid off, its clients turned away from the services it provides to keep adults independent.
There are 22 such centers spread across Illinois. All are in a similar plight.
Each day now we hear from another social service agency in our area that is in a similarly predictable situation. Services for the homeless, the hungry will go dark. Medical care for kids will disappear.
Ultimately the people of Illinois, a pretty level-headed bunch overall, will not put up with this. We are a blue state that doesn’t hate public unions with the intensity that Bruce Rauner needs if he is to prevail in this ridiculous battle. And despite our Democratic leanings, we know that Mike Madigan is a despicable power monger with virtually no principled positions.
This pathetic fight must stop. People in need must be cared for. That is the essential compact between those of us paying taxes and those we elect as stewards of our collective good.
As the first month of school wraps up in District 91 elementary schools, here’s some good news. It’s not about test scores. Or more cash in the reserve fund. It’s not about a breakthrough technology or curriculum innovation. It is the news that enrollment in the Forest Park public schools has turned upward.
After several years of declines, predicted by a demographer hired by the district, there are more students in the seats. At last week’s school board meeting, Superintendent Louis Cavallo noted that seven students had come on board in just the past week.
Both Cavallo and Mary Win Connor, the board president, allowed that Forest Park, with its heavy concentration of apartments and condos, can be a difficult place to predict enrollment. But both were pleased to see the uptick.
And so are we. Forest Park’s success is directly tied to the success of our pre-school, elementary and middle school district.