You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two: Illinois Uses Charity Funds to Pay Bills

Anyone looking for proof that progressives are content to pauperize the union one state at a time need look no further than Illinois. Governor Fagin, er, Pat Quinn and the den of pick-pockets in the Democrat controlled General Assembly are plundering monies earmarked for charities, revealing a fiscal reality awash in desperation, flim-flammery and, well, tackiness.

By checking boxes on state income tax forms, well-meaning citizens of Illinois can designate portions of their refunds to a handful of listed charities. Held in special state accounts, the funds are then supposed to be disbursed to the charities that depend on them.  It is from these accounts that the state purloined over $1.5 million to pay bills. 

In the story by Julie Wurth that broke over the weekend in the Champaign News-Gazette, Ms. Wurth reports that the state, by law, will have to reimburse the accounts with $1.176 million pinched from them during this fiscal year. (Imagine what would happen if you “borrowed” from the office petty cash and left a note in the till reading, “Sorry, had larger than expected credit card bill; will replace money in eighteen months.) However, $434,000 pilfered from seven charity funds during a revenue sweep approved by the General Assembly on Saffron Hill in fiscal year 2010 will not be reimbursed, converting the intended donations into general revenue. (Imagine what would happen to you if you left out the part about returning the cash.)

The affected charitable funds include Illinois Veterans’ Homes, Military Family Relief, Child Abuse Prevention, Wildlife Preservation, Alzheimer’s Disease Research, Assistance for the Homeless, Hunger Relief, Diabetes Research, Crisis Nursery Fund and Penny Severns Breast, Cervical and Ovarian Cancer Research.

Aside from the usual government malpractice with the people’s money, this latest transgression is a particularly bitter trespass against the people’s goodwill. Rather than feeling like Good Samaritans, taxpayers who earmarked refunds for favorite charities now feel like suckers. Rubes. Chumps. And as Illinoisans learn about the shell game the fallout will unfortunately land on the charities themselves.  Not only are the charities forced to wait for their money (some haven’t received their share since 2009), they can expect to receive less next year because Illinoisans will be less likely to trust the state to apportion their donations. Read Ms. Wurth’s article to see how the state’s pocket-picking is already affecting the eleven charities in question.

How the taxpayers of Illinois will react remains to be seen. How much can they take before they rip down the Jolly Roger flying over their state capital building and hoist the Stars and Stripes and Gadsden flag in its place and redeem the once red-leaning swing state?  The only alternative is to meekly beg, “Please Sir, I want some more.”