Drought in the Debtor State

We recently headed east to Ohio for a family reunion and water-sports showdown.  Because I’m only a generation removed from farming, I couldn’t help but notice the dire state of the corn and soybeans across Illinois, Indiana, and into central Ohio.  Drought emergencies have been declared in multiple states.  You don’t have to look for the official declaration, however, just look at the worry lines and frowns in the small towns throughout the Midwest.  People know that a certain percentage of peers will face bankruptcy as a result, and no amount of federal emergency funding will change that.

What does it mean for you?  Expect an increase to your grocery bill in the next few months – 25% or higher, depending on your diet and where you live.  Grain and soy prices affect such a large portion of the food supply…

Gov. Quinn holds up metaphor for IL tax base

…And while you’re at it, go ahead an budget for the continuing increase to your taxes – especially you fellow resident of Illinois.  The debtor state’s comptroller just announced an estimated $7.5-8 billion figure for monies owed to entities such as vendors, schools, and municipalities.  This backlog of bills is, of course, only a small portion of an astronomical $43 billion deficit, if one considers the cost of pension benefits owed to state workers.  This despite the tax increase Governor Pat Quinn campaigned on.

Our trip to Ohio brought us into states that actually have budget surpluses.  Yes, a foreign concept around here, but there they were on the Columbus local news, discussing the best way to obligate funds for a budget surplus.  I’m thinking, what kind of magicians, what superhuman policymakers could achieve such fiscal responsibility?   Continue reading

Guenther for Governor!?!

The news of Athletics Director Ron Guenther’s impending retirement after nearly 20 years has set Illini Nation a-speculatin’ this week.  Who’s next in line?  Why now with no Chancellor in place?  What does this mean for Coaches Zook and Weber?

Word is Guenther may next work for the Big 10 Conference and old pal Jim Delaney,  and he could also continue to assist the UofI with the Assembly Hall renovation project.  But what about another, more intriguing alternative?  Think:  Ronnie the G. as Governor of Illinois…  Is it really such a stretch?  Consider, if you will, the current clown-show and recall the once-and-future felons who’ve recently held the post.  Then consider this humble Top 10 list of Guenther’s qualifications…

  • Ethics.  Guenther has insisted on NCAA compliance since his first days as AD, calling “the integrity component” of his tenure one of his proudest achievements.  The Illini have been squeaky clean for two decades – a contrast from the 60s-80s.  Now consider the ethics of such stalwarts as Mike Madigan, Blago, and Quinn.  The cynics among us might say there’s no place in Illinois politics for ethics and integrity, but we’ll ignore them this time.
  • Fiscal Responsibility.  According to the Venerable One and others, Illini Athletics have operated in the black for many years.  That’s right: Guenther brought in more money than he spent.  Just chew on that one mentally for a moment as you consider Illinois government.  And this as Guenther and the UofI improved the athletics facilities, including several big projects.  Detractors may claim that this is actually a weakness – that Guenther should have splashed around more cash, especially when going after certain coaching positions, but that’s a whole other argument.
  • Building and Infrastructure.  When Guenther arrived in Champaign and yours truly was a wide-eyed undergrad, the first order of business was emergency work on a deteriorating Memorial Stadium.  The state of the stadium was indicative of the rest of the Athletics holdings, which have been consistently upgraded and built the last two decades.  The south end of campus has undergone a transformation.  With the most recent upgrades to the stadium finished, the Red Grange statute completed, alumni go to football games with heads high.  And Guenther did it while operating in the black.  Could he do the same with Illinois roads and building projects?  Continue reading