Kay in favor of Ives' proposal to get state back on track
Dwight Kay thinks Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) should be saluted for being brave enough to take a stand against one of the biggest issues he sees crippling the state.
“Jeanne Ives is correct to be taking the stand she’s taking,” Kay told the Metro East Sun. “Someone’s got to be concerned about trying to get this state back on track, no matter how tough the issues we face may be.”
Ives recently introduced the Local Government Bankruptcy Neutral Evaluation Act she argues is aimed at offering cities across the state the chance to dig themselves out from under financial ruin by authorizing “a local public entity to initiate a neutral evaluation process if that entity is unable to meet its financial obligations.”
Ives' proposal of House Bill 5644 comes in the wake of the City of Harvey having its tax revenues garnished due to out-of-control pension liabilities. By her estimation, at least 20 other cities are in similar straits and could soon face the same fate as Harvey if there is no immediate financial restructuring.
Ives said in every case most of the distress has been caused by rising pension obligations. Harvey alone is reported to be tens of millions of dollars in debt in unfunded pension payments.
“Harvey is only the beginning of many municipalities coming out to admit they face the same thing,” Kay, a Glen Carbon Republican running against Rep. Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville) in the 112th District, said. “Several hundred communities fall in the same category where their obligations can’t be met.”
Kay said he finds the question of how the crisis could even come about to be just as perplexing as the problem itself.
“You have to wonder how it could be that money that was set aside for pension payments came to be used for other things and expenditures,” he said. “You can only bite off an apple so much and not have all of it become rotten.”
Still, Kay said he thinks bankruptcy for municipalities should only be considered as a last resort.
“In business, bankruptcy is the absolute last thing before you shut the doors on the business,” he said. “It’s the same thing with a municipality.”
In the end, Kay said he fears what could happen if lawmakers like Ives don’t keep pressing the issue and offering up solutions.
“We’ll only ... see the exodus out of Illinois continue,” he said. “Every day, I’m hearing taxpayers say they’re done with what (House Speaker Mike) Madigan and (Senate President John) Cullerton are doing.“