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Illinois': French for 'Just like Greece

An editorial in today's Wall Street Journal, "The Greece Next Door" [subscription required], makes a powerful comparison showing how the liberal progressive agenda of the Illinois legislature is causing the state to, well, look a lot like Greece -- minus the fires and riots (so far -- with the notable exception of Chicago, where a win by any professional team could spark a catastrophe in seconds).

Quoth the Journal:

Run up spending and debt, raise taxes in the naming of balancing the budget, but then watch as deficits rise and your credit-rating falls anyway. That's been the sad pattern in Europe, and now it's hitting that mecca of tax-and-spend government known as Illinois.

Though too few noticed, this month Moody's downgraded Illinois state debt to A2 from A1, the lowest among the 50 states. That's worse even than California.

This isn't exactly what the Democrats in Illinois had planned:

Only a year ago, Governor Pat Quinn and his fellow Democrats raised individual income taxes by 67% and the corporate tax rate by 46%. They did it to raise $7 billion in revenue, as the Governor put it, to "get Illinois back on fiscal sound footing" and improve the state's credit rating.

How'd that work out for the now-Greco-state? Moody's didn't like it, and once again we see that higher taxes are not the answer:

In its downgrade statement, Moody's panned Illinois lawmakers for "a legislative session in which the state took no steps to implement lasting solutions to its severe pension underfunding or to its chronic bill payment delays." An analysis by Bloomberg finds that the assets in the pension fund will only cover "45% of projected liabilities, the least of any state." And -- no surprise -- in part because the tax increases have caused companies to leave Illinois, the state budget office confesses that as of this month the state still has $6.8 billion in unpaid bills and unaddressed obligations.

I'll be darned, the liberal tax-and-spend agenda failed again. Who could have seen that coming?

Even more interesting than the comparison of Illinois to Greece is how Illinois stands in contrast with Wisconsin.

Remember when leeches and union thugs occupied Madison -- before Occupying was cool? We were told that Republican Gov. Scott Walker's agenda was going to bring about the end of the world . . . or something.

So, were the protesters correct?

In contrast to the Illinois downgrade, Moody's has praised Mr. Walker's budget as "credit positive for Wisconsin," adding that the money-saving reforms bring "the state's finances closer to a structural budgetary balance."

The editorial goes on to note that, as a result of Walker and the state GOP's efforts, Wisconsin jumped rom #41 to #17 in Chief Executive magazine's business-climate rankings of the 50 states. Illinois -- that bastion of leftist policy -- dropped from #45 to #48.

Surely, as a result of his efforts, Gov. Walker is -- if not adored -- respected by the people of Wisconsin, right? Um, not so much.

Even though he was able to balance the budget without hiking taxes, the governor faces a union-financed, union-backed, union-led recall effort this year. Wisconsinites should take notice:

If Wisconsin voters want to see where a state ends up without the kind of reforms that Mr. Walker made, they need only look to the Greece next door.

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