Fits and starts in Illinois’ long march to financial solvency

Illinois State Capitol building in Springfield.

The self-congratulation was effusive when the state’s top elected officials announced plans to pay off a loan from the federal government.

Given that Illinois faces a mountain of debt, it’s always a good thing when our elected officials get together and agree to, however slightly, reduce it.

That’s why Gov. JB Pritzker’s announcement last week that the state plans to repay a remaining $1.36 billion debt to the federal government is both welcome and somewhat surprising.

It’s too often been the case that legislators can’t wait to spend whatever cash is lying around, running up further debts rather than reducing existing ones.

So give Pritzker, his legislative minions and business and labor groups credit for agreeing on what passes for a financial fix in this state.

Because of Illinois’ poor financial condition during the coronavirus pandemic, it was forced to borrow $4.5 billion from the federal government to keep its unemployment-compensation trust fund in operation.

The fund, which provides financial aid to those who’ve lost their jobs, was essentially bust before the feds came to Illinois’ aid.

Illinois was one of 22 states needing assistance, and it is one of just four that hasn’t repaid the debt.

The state earlier had paid $2.7 billion back, and there has been a lengthy discussion as to when Illinois should pay the rest.

Champaign News-Gazette