Sporting a new 44 billion dollar deficit – Illinois can now boast that no other state in the union has this much debt. It’s a fact that drives politicians like Republican Rich Morthland crazy.
“It’s an enormous number and we’re in a big hole. No other way to say it? There really isn’t. Broke. Broke. Broke. How else do you say the word broke?” Says Morthland.
Drowning in red ink, things in Illinois may get worse before they better. The state’s credit rating is in danger of being downgraded yet again.
“We got into this mess because politicians said ‘Oh don’t worry, don’t worry.’ Well guess what it’s time to wake up and worry because the numbers are massive,” he adds.
It’s no surprise the State of Illinois owes a lot of people a lot of money, but things are getting so bad that some are considering drastic measures.
“We supply water and sewer services to the prison,” explains East Moline Mayor John Thodos.
He says the state is more than four months late on its sewer and water bills for the prison. It’s getting to the point he’s considering shutting off the water.
“The last payment they made was in February. They owe a total of $402,000 of which $180,000 is late fees, but they feel that they don’t have to pay that,” explains Thodos.
Adding anyone four months behind on payment would be liable to have their water shut off. But because it’s the state he’s dealing thing, it’s a bit of a sticky situation.
“It’s kind of like your parents are borrowing money from you and they’re not making their payments,” he says.
The East Moline Mayor says he worries that shutting off the water means he’d find himself in prison. But, Thodos says, if the state doesn’t pay up, they may force him to act. “There is only so much elasticity in a rubber band, sooner or later it does snap.”