“A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” – Everett Dirsken
When you’re as broke as we are here in Illinois, you don’t have that much margin for error. That’s what leads us to this picture of my empty desk in the Capitol Building. Generally, there’d be a laptop sitting there. Each of us has a Think Pad issued to us for our use on the floor, and their use is generally confined to reading staff updates and analysis of bills then under consideration. Every time a bill is called, the latest analysis automatically pops up on the screen. They’re fully functional machines, with full internet access and a full suite of word processing and other tools.
There isn’t one of us in the House who thinks we need a new laptop. But somebody decided that at the end of this past session, all 118 members of the House (I’m not sure what’s going on in the Senate) needed a new one. At an average price of $400 apiece, that means the State is ponying up some $47,000 to buy something none of us asked for and none of us need.
I know, $47,000 is nothing but a rounding error in a $36 billion budget, but maybe it’s the type of expense people can understand when we talk about how much money is wasted in this State. If you can’t wrap your head around a number as big as $36 billion, it’s not so hard to imagine spending $47,000 on something you have no use for.
This is just one example of the type of casual indifference to how the Illinois legislature spends other peoples’ money. Think about all the others that you don’t hear about.