Staring down red October

The state of Illinois is entering its fourth month without a 2016 budget. Welcome to red October.

The pile of unpaid bills continues to rise. Small businesses that provide care to the most vulnerable are laying off workers. Public universities warn of staffing and financial aid cuts. Secretary of State Jesse White said his office can't afford to mail certain notices. And last week, a law enforcement official critical of police training cuts compared Gov. Bruce Rauner to a hostage-taker.

Yes, there are those who believe the freshman governor who inherited the state's decadeslong financial fiasco is to blame for today's wreckage. As if it's easy to cure addicted-to-risk-taking-and-high-spending gamblers.

As the rhetoric heats up, a curious date looms: Oct. 20. Lawmakers won't even return to Springfield until then. They're busy preparing for their re-election campaigns. Budget impasse? What impasse?

They've given taxpayers no confidence that they'll make a serious effort at passing a balanced budget even when they return. The supermajority Democrats in the House and Senate sent Rauner a budget in May, knowing it was wildly out of balance. Like their budget the year before. It was a game of chicken, cavalierly playing with the lives of those who rely on Springfield for help. Read the entire editorial in the Chicago Tribune.