If you recently bought a lottery ticket in Illinois, the odds are stacked against you — way against you. The Land of Lincoln has gotten itself into such a financial pickle that it may not even be able to pay out lotto winnings, meaning the chance of striking it big would be, literally, zero.
Years of fiscal mismanagement have finally caught up with Illinois, and the state is now facing $130 billion in unfunded public pension liabilities and nearly $15 billion more in debt. And because of certain court-ordered payments the state is required to make, the Illinois comptroller recently sounded the alarm that mandated bills will equal 100% of the state’s monthly revenue. In case the obvious needs emphasis, this is a problem.
It’s so bad even Republican Governor Bruce Rauner didn’t mince words. “We’re like a banana republic,” he said recently. “We can’t manage our money.”
The crisis should hardly be a surprise. As George Will noted last year, despite the state constitution’s requirement of a balanced budget, Illinois hasn’t had such a budget in 25 years..