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That’s not some apocalyptic bumper sticker. It’s the learned opinion of numerous financial experts when describing the
budget crises facing a number of U.S. states, notably Illinois, California and New Jersey.
“This is an unprecedented crisis,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, an influential Illinois-based
tax and fiscal policy research group.
While a General Motors-style bankruptcy is off the table – states are prohibited by law from filing for protection from
their debtors – the alternative is no less alarming.
It’s already happening in Illinois, Msall said, where the state has reneged on payments promised to public colleges, and
those colleges in turn have threatened 20% tuition increases.
In other words, the money needed to keep insolvent states running at some minimum operational level will have to come from
California, the largest state in the U.S., spends $17 billion each year on government employee pensions and health care,