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Economy & Business

The Land Of Lincoln Is Penniless: Is It A Warning Or An Outlier?

Illinois is facing billions in debt, and has gone nearly two years without passing a budget.
Illinois is facing billions in debt, and has gone nearly two years without passing a budget.

Is Illinois a failed state? For anyone west of the Mississippi or east of the Wabash, that might seem like an odd question, but consider this: The Prairie State has $14.6 billion in debt, $130 billion in pension obligations, a roughly $6 billion deficit and all that debt is ranked at near-junk status. On top of that, the state has gone nearly two years without passing a budget as partisan fighting in Springfield has reduced government to relying on stopgaps and court orders to keep the lights on.

Unlike cities, states can’t legally go bankrupt. So what happens if Illinois keeps avoiding its bills? And what lessons can other states learn from Illinois’ example?

GUESTS

Liz Farmer, Staff writer, Governing Magazine; @LizFarmerTweets

Tony Arnold, state politics reporter, WBEZ; @TonyJArnold

Christopher Mooney, professor of state politics, University of Illinois at Springfield

Natasha Korecki, Reporter Politico Illinois; @NatashaKorecki

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