You can play the lottery in Illinois these days, but you just can’t win much. The cash-strapped state said on Thursday that it can’t pay out anything over $600 for the time being. For a ticket worth more than that, winners get an IOU that won’t be paid off until the state government resolves its long-running budget crisis.
…And that would be why. For those wondering: Illinois is in the middle of a knock-down, drag out fight between Republican governor Bruce Rauner and a Democratic-controlled legislature. Well, it’s not really either; it’s more like shadow-boxing. Both sides set it up ahead of time that the basic stuff got funded, but there are a lot of projects around the margins that are more or less constantly now on the verge of running out of money. The basic question seems to be here to see who yelps in pain first.
Which does not mean that this particular shortfall isn’t noteworthy. It most definitely is noteworthy, if for no other reason that the minor detail that state lotteries are stone-cold money-makers. That’s why states do them; they self-finance. Now, either the state of Illinois has suddenly lost all interest in Lotto (the state of Illinois has not suddenly lost all interest in Lotto), or else the lottery money that is flowing into state coffers is being diverted before it can replenish payouts. There are shenanigans going on, in other words.
Mind you, they’re probably legal shenanigans. This is Illinois. Also mind you, that’s for a given value of ‘legal.’ Again, this is Illinois.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: Seriously: the Illinois legislature needs to get it through their heads that things shouldn’t go be going entirely their way for a while. We keep running into this problem with Democrats on the state level; they seem almost inherently incapable of admitting the voters might have had a reason for taking even a little power away from their party. There’s a reason why full-Democratic control of states is a rarity, these days – and that the ones who do enjoy such a bounty all seem to exist in a state of excitingly dramatic crisis.