An episode of the 1970s sitcom “Sanford and Son” featured Fred Sanford advising his son, Lamont, that they could avoid unwanted expenditures by putting their household bills back in the mailbox. This is great stuff for a television program but not for a state budget. Yet this is exactly what Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois legislators did last week when they “worked out” a budget deal.

An episode of the 1970s sitcom “Sanford and Son” featured Fred Sanford advising his son, Lamont, that they could avoid unwanted expenditures by putting their household bills back in the mailbox.


This is great stuff for a television program but not for a state budget. Yet this is exactly what Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois legislators did last week when they “worked out” a budget deal.


The budget had a deficit of between $9 billion and $11 billion. Members of the General Assembly balanced the budget, if we may stretch the meaning of that word, by issuing $3.5 billion in bonds to make the state’s pension payments and by agreeing not to pay $3.2 billion in bills.


Don’t pay your bills — great plan! Why didn’t anyone in Springfield think of that before?


Actually, a lot of nonpayments of bills have been going on for years; this is how they ended up with a huge budget deficit. Lawmakers patted themselves on the back for hashing out a budget deal without making severe cuts in social service programs and not raising taxes.


What’s more galling is that this deal was passed a few days after Quinn signed into law a $31 billion capital improvements bill. Revenues from video gambling will help pay for this massive spending plan.


Here’s an idea. Putting aside the concerns over an expansion of legalized gambling (valid as these concerns are), why not amend the capital improvements bill and address the budget deficit at the same time?


Rather than passing a $31 billion spending plan, why not pass a $20 billion spending plan? The other $11 billion that legislators anticipate deriving from video gambling could be used to plug the deficit — and this avoids both the massive cuts and tax hike that no one wants.


But our elected leaders fashioned a momentary fix in the budget by creating additional problems for the state in the near future. This is what they’ve been doing for the past few years, and they still haven’t learned their lesson.


Suburban Life Publications