Idstein says state needs to make hard decision to right financial ship
Ken Idstein says no stone should go unturned in the state’s ongoing battle to dig itself out from financial ruin.
“Illinois needs to consider some hard decisions to right the ship,” Idstein told the Lake County Gazette. “All options need to be discussed.”
That undoubtedly includes the Local Government Bankruptcy Neutral Evaluation Act now being pushed by Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton). Ives has hailed House Bill 5644 as legislation that “authorizes a local public entity to initiate a neutral evaluation process if that entity is unable to meet its financial obligations.”
She went public with her idea soon after it was revealed that the City of Harvey would have its tax revenues garnished due to its growing pension liabilities.
Ives lamented that may just be the tip of the iceberg, estimating that at least 20 other Illinois cities could also be on the verge of such a fate without an immediate financial restructuring. In every instance, she added, most of the distress has been caused by rising pension obligations.
In the case of Harvey, the city is reported to be tens of millions of dollars in debt in unfunded pension payments.
“All alternatives need to be looked at, short of bankruptcy,” Idstein, the Grayslake Republican running against Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Grayslake) in the 62nd District, said. “If a unit of local government gets downgraded to ‘junk’ and cannot borrow money, bills don’t get paid. Is this not a practical bankruptcy? Spending needs to be controlled, budgets cut and contracts renegotiated.”
In the long run, Idstein said it will take a coordinated and committed effort from lawmakers to get the state back on track and moving in the right direction.
“New hires need to go to 401(k)-like plans” he said. “We need to control spending/budget cuts -- 2 percent across the board for starters.”
Without that, Idstein said the future doesn’t look so bright.
“Junk bond status would be ugly,” he said. “Bills won’t get paid.”
The 62nd District includes parts of Grayslake, the Round Lake communities, Hainesville, Wauconda and Gurnee.