Illinois has reached point of no return in fiscal crisis and other issues, retired GOP senator says
Illinois may have dug itself into a fiscal hole so deep that digging back out is not a practical option, retired Illinois state Sen. David Luechtefeld said during a recent radio interview.
"I'm not real sure you can fix it," the Okawville Republican said during "The Morning Newswatch" broadcast on Newsradio WJPF on Wednesday. "There is a point where you become so deep in debt—it can be in a family or in a city or state—that you can't any longer get out of it. You can't tax enough, you can't save enough, can't quit spending enough in order to get completely out of it. I think we've reached that point. Where we go from there, I don't know."
Illinois' debt load already is very great, while the path to paying it off is not at all clear, Luechtefeld said.
"And if the interest rates were to jump up, we would really be in a lot of trouble," he said.
Luechtefeld represented the 58th District from September 1995 until January 2017, serving in that time as deputy minority leader. He announced in June 2016 that he would not seek another term. Luechtefeld's former seat now is held by Waterloo Republican Paul Schimpf.
Illinois' 58th District includes all or parts of Jefferson, Perry, Randolph, St. Clair, Monroe, Jackson, Union and Washington counties.
Illinois has become "a Sinkhole State," with assets of about $28.8 billion available to pay the almost $245 billion it owes, according to a Truth in Accounting report issued last fall.
It appears that debt is about to become billions of dollars greater. Illinois' Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker's recently released budget includes a larger than normal deficit - more than $3 billion - as the state continues to face billions of dollars in unpaid bills, a budget deficit of $7.8 billion, and more than $133 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.
The governor is expected to give his budget address Wednesday.
With a Democratic governor and that party holding supermajorities in the General Assembly, it could appear that Republicans are marginalized in Springfield, but Luechtefeld said some things have not changed. After all, the state's powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) remains, he said.
"Nothing has happened over the last 35 to 40 years that Mike Madigan didn't agree to, and it will be easier for him right now," Luechtefeld said. "The Republican Party in Illinois right now is struggling and I think it is uncertain, nationwide, where the Republican Party is going. With Donald Trump, it's hard to say. He will go in any direction he thinks, for his sake, is the right thing to do."
While the Republican Party's future is uncertain, the Democratic Party's path forward is likewise muddled as it lurches even further Left, Luechtefeld said.
"Both parties right now are struggling with an identify issue," he said. "How that comes out in the next presidential election in 2020 and then in the next congressional election, well, we'll wait and see. But it is going to be interesting."
Organizations in this Story
Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. • Illinois Democratic Party • Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker • Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan • Illinois Republican Party • Illinois State Senate • State of Illinois- General Assembly • Truth in Accounting