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NOT AMERICAN TAXPAYERS PROBLEM, WE SHOULD NOT PAY FOR ILLINOIS RETIREMENT PLANS OR ANY OTHER STATE!

Congress should not bail out fiscally
irresponsible states with COVID-19 relief

 

 GETTY IMAGES
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a tragedy for our nation, but some states are now trying to use this crisis to force taxpayers to pay for years of irresponsible spending.
The death and destruction from this pandemic has disrupted our lives and devastated businesses big and small, causing layoffs and threatening millions of families’ livelihoods. Yet, lawmakers should be wary of another bailout that will benefit special interests over those who are hurting.  The federal government has already provided at least $1.8 trillion in assistance to state governments intended to support individuals, businesses and states that were directly impacted by COVID-19.  Although the majority of recipients are genuinely in need, some state-level officials are trying to take advantage of the assistance to bail them out of decades of fiscal mismanagement. Our state’s congressional delegation should reject these claims. Otherwise, Floridians will be left with the tab for other states’ irresponsibility.
On April 14, Illinois’ Senate Democratic Caucus requested $40 billion from the federal government, on top of the billions that state has already received. The request makes clear that $10 billion of these funds would go toward propping up the state’s floundering pension system for its government employees.  Even before the COVID pandemic, Illinois’ pension program was straining the state’s finances, eating up 25 percent of the state’s annual general revenue expenditures. This was the result of multiple administrations in Springfield avoiding hard choices necessary to foster a responsible retirement system.
These pressures contributed to Illinois’ dismal bond rating, showing how little faith creditors had in the state’s ability to pay back its loans. All this left Illinois’ budget woefully unprepared for the economic shutdown resulting from the pandemic. Two major credit-rating agencies now rank the state’s outlook as “negative,” raising the possibility of a further downgrade of its bonds to junk status.  While Illinois’ financial woes are well documented, other states face similar fiscal problems. Despite Florida having 2 million more residents than New York, its budget is less than half that of the Empire State’s, since it was willing to make tough budgetary choices over the past decade. Increased spending hasn’t improved New York’s fiscal position though, since it has a $136.6. billion shortfall, a burden of $20,500 per taxpayer.
If Congress grants the Prairie State and New York a bailout, others might be tempted to ask for one as well.
As the adage goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Everyone else will have to pay for years of fiscal negligence by those states. That includes Floridians who have elected, and held accountable, politicians who have managed our state’s finances well.  According to the Florida Division of Bond Finance, as of April 10, Florida projected $3.8 billion in reserves by the end of this fiscal year. These reserves were built up despite not having a state income tax, unlike Illinois and many other states currently in the red.
We’ve made hard choices about Florida’s finances. We should not be punished for the mismanagement of others.
Skylar Zander is state director of Americans for Prosperity-Florida.

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CHAIRMAN
John Nelson - jenkan04@gmail.com
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Bob Gilmore
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Dick Fankhauser

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