Illinois’ Own Darn Fault

According to Pro Publica, Illinois is the 16th state to have to borrow to keep paying out unemployment benefits, but — just as is true of the City of DeKalb — the primary problem apparently is not due to the state of the economy:

Going into the recession, Illinois had a dangerously low level of reserves, a situation that’s gone on for years. Indeed, Illinois was forced to borrow federal money in 2005, relatively good economic times.

To make matters worse, the tax rate on employers was not high enough to sustain benefits paid, let alone to accumulate a safe level of reserves to prepare it for a recession — even one much milder than the current train wreck.

The graphs will make you want to hurl. Check them out anyway, to reinforce your sense of urgency to put some grownups in office at the earliest opportunity.

Illinois is due a temporary boost of about $300 million in stimulus money as a reward for expanding unemployment insurance eligibility. But given that the state paid out about $1.8 billion in benefits in 2008, when the state’s unemployment rate was a paltry 6.5 percent (it is now over 10 percent), the stimulus funds are not likely to fend off more borrowing.

In June, it was 10.3%. Oh, boy.

I’ll add Pro Publica to the blogroll.