A highly unusual closed-door meeting of the state Senate lasted about an hour and a half today, and participants said many of the chamber’s 59 Democrats and Republicans attended to hear a presentation on budgeting and the economy from national experts.
Lawmakers barred reporters from the meeting, saying it was a joint gathering of the Democratic and Republican caucuses that was not required to be public under the state Constitution or open meetings law. Reporters were offered the opportunity to get the information from the budget experts at a post-meeting news conference, but Democratic and Republican leaders said they wanted the meeting private to encourage a frank exchange between public officials.
Donald Craven, a longtime attorney for the Illinois Press Association who also has represented the Chicago Tribune on open government issues, said the meeting should have been open no matter how big or small the topic.
“The topic is not important,” Craven said. “If the Senate can go into a joint caucus to talk about this topic, what’s the logical extreme?
“Can they also go into a joint caucus to debate the budget bill? Can they go into a joint caucus to debate the hundreds of other bills that go before the state Senate?” Craven asked.
State Senate President John Cullerton did not answer questions when he left the meeting, noting a news conference would follow, but he did not attend it.
So, what’d they see?
Slideshow #1: http://thecapitolfaxblog.com/StateBudgetUpdate.pdf
Slideshow #2: http://thecapitolfaxblog.com/FederalFunds.pdf
As you can see from the slideshows, Illinois is not alone. I expect other state legislators to get the same presentation some point soon. States are not only ill prepared for what is about to crash down on them, they have woefully underestimated revenue shortfalls. This also extends to small municipalities, one of which I reside in. Our city government has estimated a 12% revenue decrease for 2010. One can only imagine the gaping hole that will be the budget gap that little mathematical error will result in.
Note to states and municipalities: wake up and smell the coffee and don’t think for one minute your citizens, after having been asked to foot the bill for a myriad of insolvent banks, two auto companies, a giant stimulus that hasn’t created one darn job (but according to the Administration, hypothetically ‘saved jobs,’) all the while losing their 401ks, jobs and housing values, will be pleased you were so stupid and short-sighted as to miss this freight train coming. No, you’re going to have to do what the American citizens have been doing, tighten your belt, trim the fat and man up; stop the spending, root out and expose any fraud, cronyism and collusion and then put those who perpatrated it in jail. ENOUGH is ENOUGH! And citizens, YOU have a duty to force them to do these things. The power resides with you.