Illinois is what's called a “donor state.” We lose tens of billions of dollars to other states’ pork projects and corporate welfare courtesy of the federal budgeting process.
Money that could be funding education, infrastructure, and social services right here in our own communities is instead being wasted or diverted to political insiders. Local governments shouldn’t be forced to choose between funding our children’s education or services to the disabled because of fraud, waste, and abuse in Washington, DC!
Congress isn't going to fix this any time soon. Dispensing favors is how they keep donations from big-money donors and powerful special interests rolling in. The Founders were no strangers to the “back-room deal.” They intended that decisions be made by your local representatives: people who live and work in your community and have to face you every day...not politically-appointed bureaucrats who have never even set foot in your neighborhood. That’s why they included a procedure called an Article V Convention in the Constitution.
How much money does Illinois lose?
Illinois is consistently among the top 5 donor states. In 2014, fifty-five cents of every dollar sent to Washington by Illinois taxpayers and businesses was redistributed to other states through the federal budgeting process. That's a whopping $78 billion in just one year! If we could keep even half of that money here in Illinois, we could immediately make up our budget shortfall and begin getting caught up on our pension obligations…without having to raise anyone's taxes!
Approximately 20% of our Gross State Product ends up in the hands of Washington, DC. We pay 25% more to the federal government than our share of the population, even though our median income is only 7% higher than the national average, and our unemployment and poverty rates are worse than many of the recipient states.
Where does the money go?
Here are just a few of the more egregious examples of federal waste, fraud, and abuse:
- $150,000 to study the hookah smoking habits of Jordanian students
- $121 million on lavish conferences for Department of Justice employees
- $1 billion on energy credits for people who don’t own any real estate
- $24 million on routers powerful enough to serve thousands of users for buildings in rural West Virginia with fewer than 10 computers
- $104 million on a “Harbor to Nowhere” and “Airport to Nowhere” to go with Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere”
- $2 million to fund a single intern for the Department of Agriculture
- $862,000 a year to warehouse unused furniture for the IRS
- $16 million a year on food stamps for dead people
These expenditures are easily hidden in the federal budget because it is so large and complicated. Together with the annotations, the federal budget is the size of a telephone directory for a large city. Unless they sit on an appropriations committee, members of Congress can only cast an up or down vote on a budget or spending bill in its entirety. Most of them can’t possibly read it all, and even if they did, they have no power to strike a single line item. And they certainly aren’t going to bring the entire federal government to a halt over a little pork...especially if their state benefits. But as Sen. Everett Dirksen famously said, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money!”
How can a Convention of States help?
At an Article V Convention to limit the power & jurisdiction of the federal government and establish spending controls & term limits upon its officials, the states have the power to propose a Constitutional amendment that prohibits the federal government from spending money on projects and expenditures that the Constitution originally reserved for state and local control. They can also eliminate unfunded federal mandates.
Please contact your General Assembly members and ask them to support HJR115 today! If you haven't already, please sign our on-line petition. If you would like to write, phone, or visit your legislators, you can click here to find out who they are; then click on the names of your State Upper House and State Lower House legislators to view their contact information. Please use the links below to share COS with your friends!