Dance Band on the Titanic

Dance Band on the TitanicThere’s an old saying that bad news comes in threes. It’s certainly true today for Illinois.

First comes the news that Illinois’ insurance rates under Obamacare are set to skyrocket by 43%-55% at the end of the year. Nothing about the Affordable Care Act (insert your own punch line here) has worked as advertised. The biggest driver of higher costs for the ACA is the radical expansion of Medicaid. Illinois was projected to have had an expansion of Medicaid enrollment in 2014 of some 200,000 people, when in fact the number was more than three times that amount. Think that’s bad? It gets worse. For the first 3 years of the ACA, the Federal government picked up the cost of Medicaid expansion. Starting in 2017, Illinois will be obliged to pick up the tab on 3% of that expansion, capping (heh) at 10% in 2020. That’s going to cost us anywhere from $375-$400 million per year in money we don’t have.

The second bit of bad news is that the Teachers’ Retirement System is meeting today to discuss the possibility of lowering the projected rate of return on its portfolio from its current rate of 7.5%. I’ve written earlier why this will hurt Illinois taxpayers, and won’t repeat myself here. Let’s just say that while such a move would reflect economic reality, that horse left the barn years ago. Most of my clients are pilots for United Airlines, and I know first-hand what it looks like when a pension plan explodes, and it’s not pretty. The same thing’s happening here, only the numbers are bigger and you’re going to be left holding the bag.

Finally, of course, there’s yesterday’s decision by the Illinois Supreme Court ruling against placing an independent map amendment on the November ballot. In a 4-3 decision which followed party lines (who’da thunk?) the Court ruled that Illinois politicians could continue to choose their voters, rather than the other way around. It also shows that the rot and corruption that has infected the Legislature for so long has crept to the judicial branch. Justice Thomas in his dissent said it all:

“The Illinois constitution is meant to prevent tyranny, not to enshrine it… Today a muzzle has been placed on the people of this State, and their voices supplanted with judicial fiat. The whimper you hear is democracy stifled.”

It’s becoming more obvious every day that without wholesale change in the Illinois legislature, the Republican caucus will continue to be nothing more than the dance band on the Titanic.

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