Illinois lawmaker proposes holiday honoring Barack Obama’s birthday
Are you ready for Barack Obama's Birthday as a holiday on which government employees get a day off and schools are closed? Now that neither George Washington's nor Abraham Lincoln's birth is considered worthy of a national holiday, creating Barack Obama Day as a state holiday in Illinois would definitely make a statement. An insane statement, but when did that ever stop the Democrats?
Hoang Tran reports for Chicago City Wire:
House Bill 503, introduced by Rep. Sonya Harper (D-Chicago), would amend the State Commemorative Dates Act and make August 4, Obama's birthday, a holiday in which state agencies would close. If the date falls on a Sunday, the following Monday would be reserved for the holiday. If schools are in session, they would have the day off.
The problem is that Illinois is already so deeply in debt that each state resident is on the hook for over $45,000 in unfunded state liabilities. The depth of the sustained fiscal irresponsibility is breathtaking:
Business economist Thomas Walstrum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago examined a quarter-century's combined overspending by Illinois state and local governments, the big ones in and around Chicago included. Each of those governments wants taxpayers to think of its rising debt in unthreatening isolation; Walstrum's method instead frames all this overspending as one combined wallop with long-term consequences for Illinois taxpayers.
Walstrum reports that while the typical U.S. state was spending an average of 5.7 percent more, year after year, than it had in revenue – a foolish habit, we think – Illinois governments together were spending 15.9 percent more than they had available. Imagine the compounded effect of overspending your income by 15.9 percent, year after year. Three-fourths of that overspending went to, yes, fat pension promises and other retirement costs. Another big expense: rising interest payments on all this rising debt.
Illinois simply cannot afford to spend millions of dollars each year to give teachers and state employees an extra paid holiday.
Harper had asserted that the estimated fiscal impact to the state would be approximately $3.2 million in personnel costs, which she said was about the same as with other state holidays. But Andersson argued that the cost is closer to $20 million when you add the loss in productivity.
"Our analysis shows that the loss in productivity is $16 million," he said. "So, we are not really talking just $3.2 million. We're really coming close to $20 million in lost productivity and direct personnel costs."
He said that a state already in a deep hole financially cannot afford another holiday.
"To the $3.2 million or $20 million in lost productivity … where are we going to find the money?" he asked. "We don't have the money. We're broke. What are we going to do?"
I suggest commemorating President Obama in a more appropriate way: naming the state's bankruptcy filing after him. Illinois would be the first state ever to declare bankruptcy and would need a great deal of judicial help. Who more appropriate to name it after than the man who singlehandedly doubled the national debt?