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The Southern Illinoisan - Kirk: Illinois Debt Endangers its Citizens

News Article

Location: Chicago, IL

By Unknown

Illinoisans owe more in debt than the citizens of any other Midwestern state, thanks to Illinois' fiscal crisis, according to a report released by U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk Tuesday.

Kirk, R-Highland Park, said Illinois citizens owe twice as much to the state as people in Indiana, Iowa and Missouri and three times more than people in Wisconsin and Michigan.

The report, compiled by Kirk's Sovereign Debt Advisory Board, says the state directly more than $30 billion, not including unpaid bills that have increased 10 times in the last decade. Health and pension obligation surpass $140 billion.

Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation and ranks near the bottom of states in terms of having a health business climate, the report continues. It pays nearly $3 billion in interest on money it has already borrowed. Unemployment among citizens is rising, but state today employs 190,000 more people than it did in January of 2001, Kirk added.

"If Illinois enters an unrecoverable debt spiral, there will be no federal bailout," Kirk said. "Therefore, the people of Illinois need to know the dire financial position of our state and what we need to do to fix it ourselves."

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford issued the following statement on Kirk's report Tuesday morning:

"I would like to commend the work done by Sen. Mark Kirk's Sovereign Debt Advisory Board and their recently released Report on Illinois Debt," he said. "They are correct in their assessment that Illinois residents face greater concerns regarding accumulated debt than any other state.

"Illinois' miserable credit rating makes state debt more expensive by virtue of higher interest costs and a corresponding negative halo effect is cast on the state's municipalities making their incurred debt more costly too.

"Illinois must break its unsustainable cycle of borrowing and put its financial house in order."

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