‘Clueless in Illinois’ 

That’s the title of a Chicago Tribune editorial, noting with disdain that during the worst fiscal crisis in Illinois history, and with a $4.7 billion backlog of unpaid bills, Democratic Governor Pat Quinn rewarded his staff with pay raises as high as 20 percent – while telling his constituents to “share the sacrifice.”

There are about 12 million people in Illinois. The state debt is $11 billion. Put another way, Illinois now owes about $916 for each state resident.

Last December, Moody’s downgraded Illinois’ bond rating, putting it only slightly ahead of California. With a second credit downgrade by Fitch in June, Illinois has overtaken California as the worst credit risk in the United States. Its public employee union pension funds are even more underfunded than California’s, whose 37 million residents face their own staggering state debt of $22 billion.

But Illinois voters are finally waking up to the madness.

Real Clear Politics puts downstate state Senator Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, six points ahead of Quinn in the Illinois governor’s race, even though Brady was one of just three Republican state senators who publicly supported Alan Keyes’ quixotic 2004 campaign. The conservative Brady is pro-life, pro Second Amendment and doesn’t’ believe human activity causes global warming, not usually winning issues in Illinois.

But Brady is focused on reining-in Quinn’s unsustainable spending, and that’s just the message Illinoisans want to hear:

“On July 1, the governor announced what he says will amount to approximately $1.4 billion in budget cuts, though the cuts are actually in the neighborhood of $155 million—a spending reduction of less than one half of one percent. I am supportive of any plan to scale back state expenditures in the face of a $13 billion budget deficit, but I am skeptical that these proposed cuts will be made.” Brady said, pointing out that Gov. Quinn promised to cut $1 billion from the state budget in 2009, but wound up actually increasing the deficit from $4 billion to $6 billion.

If a message of fiscal austerity has finally gotten through to voters even in President Obama’s home state, free-spending Democrats are really in for a thrashing this November.

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