NewsViews: Budget Deficit Problems

October 17, 2011 8:44:29 AM PDT
On Tuesday, US Senator Mark Kirk issued a gloomy report on Illinois debt. The first-term Republican said the state is in a dire financial position.

Kirk claimed Illinois has the worst credit rating in America. He said the state has health and pension debt exceeding $140 billion. He added that less than 60 percent of that obligation is covered, which he called the lowest percentage in the nation. And he stressed that Illinois will not receive a federal bailout.

On Wednesday, Chicago's City Council heard Mayor Rahm Emanuel report on how he would tackle Chicago's big debt of $636 million. The first-term democrat proposed some new fees, including a congestion fee to park in downtown garages and lots. Emanuel wants higher water bills, a higher hotel tax, and he would close three police stations.

Why do the state, the city, and also Cook County have huge budget deficits? What if anything can we do to return to financial health? Two experts weigh in.

On this NewsViews, we were joined by Laurence Msall -- he is an expert on government finance, and president of the civic federation -- and Ty Fahner, who was Illinois attorney general from 1980 to 1983, and now is president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.


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