Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy was joined in studio by all-star panelist Crom Carmichael.
At the end of the third hour, Carmichael discussed how Illinois is a government fiscally out of control even though it is one of the highest taxed states in America. He warned that if Metro Nashville doesn’t fix its obvious ails that the city will go by the way of Illinois’s financial ruin.
Leahy: Crom, we have had a lively Monday coming back from the weekend. Howie Carr is always fun. He was talking a little bit about Governor Pritzker, the Democratic governor in Illinois who was born into the fortune of the Hyatt family and who thinks he should be king apparently. Illinois is an example of a state government that is out of control in terms of limiting individual rights there.
Carmichael: It’s not just the limiting of individual rights. It’s a state out of control financially and a mess government wise. Here is what’s interesting about Illinois. And I want to touch on a point that you made about the local black caucus at the state level. They made the comment that if you give the police the health records on COVID-19 it’s going to cause people to not want to be tested. Which I happen to think is dead on.
Carmichael: I think that is dead on. That is human nature. Why would I want to be tested and then the fact that I was tested is now given to the government and police departments. That could end up being used against me.
So, I want to try to tie all this together. And also I’m going to take it back to Metro Nashville. In Illinois a recent article of just how upside-down everything financially is in Illinois. Their pensions are 38% funded. 38% funded.
Leahy: That’s less than half. (Laughs)
Carmichael: A lot less than half. It is just terrible. When you get that low what happens when you have a dip like this in order to pay out pensions you’re having to sell principle. You’re having to sell your foundation.
Leahy: Not a good long term plan.
Carmichael: It’s a complete failure. Illinois is also one of the highest-taxed states in the country. So here you have a state that is Democrat-controlled by the legislature. Democrat-controlled. You don’t graduate as governor of Illinois unless you go to prison.
Leahy: That’s right. That’s the next step.
Carmichael: By the way, that’s not partisan. That’s democrats and republicans. You get to go to prison.
Leahy: I think the last three governors, both democrat and republican have gone to prison for various reasons?
Carmichael: It maybe three out of four. If you’ll remember Dennis Hastert who was for a short time Speaker of the House ended up going to prison. And he was a republican. This is just the way Illinois is. But here’s the problem with Illinois. In Illinois, you can be a state employee and this is why I’m tying it back to Nashville.
In Illinois, you can be a state employee and retire after 30 years in your 50s. You get your full pension. You get healthcare for life. And you can go work another job full time. So you are triple dipping and getting paid three ways. In metro Nashville, after 30 years you can retire and you get your healthcare and you get your pension.
And we have a four billion dollar, four billion dollars of unfunded liability here in the city of Nashville. The reason I say this is human nature is if you’re in your mid-50s, and I’m not blaming anybody, I’m blaming a very bad policy. It’s a very bad policy.
If you are in your mid-50s and you’ve worked for 30 years for Metro Nashville, why wouldn’t you retire? Take your pension and take your healthcare and go work for somebody else. You might increase your income by $20,000.00 to $50,000.00 a year while you’re still getting everything you were getting before.
Leahy: It makes perfect sense. It’s logical to do that.
Carmichael: Yes. Consequently, this comes back to the human nature thing we are talking about. If we are going to fix our problems here in Nashville we need to recognize this singular aspect of human nature and that is we can add and do simple math. It is the policy that is the problem, not the Metro employees who are saying I’m 55 I’ve already worked 30 years, I’m better off taking my pension, healthcare, and going to work for someone else. Which is what they are doing.
So we need to change that policy here locally. Illinois is so far gone that I’m not sure that they can fix it. I think at the end of the day, McConnell is correct. Under our constitution, I checked this, a state cannot declare bankruptcy but a city can. But a state cannot.
Leahy: So you say under our federal constitution?
Carmichael: Federal constitution.
Leahy: Interesting. I think what your warning is this, Illinois may be gone.
Carmichael: Chicago is gone.
Leahy: Nashville may not be far off.
Carmichael: Well, Nashville is heading in the wrong direction. And its heading in the wrong directions for very very easy to see reasons. The other area in Nashville that can be corrected where there is a great deal of money that’s being poorly spent. You pointed out the other day Michael that in our government-run school system for every teacher there is almost one non-teacher employee.
Leahy: It’s about one to one.
Carmichael: It’s almost one to one. So clearly we are top-heavy in administration. By the way, where does that money come from? It comes from the pockets of the teachers in the classroom because there is a budget of X and the city council isn’t going to greatly increase that budget in any one year.
And the city over the years more and more people have moved into the bureaucracy and then teacher pay has been growing very very slowly. But you don’t increase taxes, you administer better. I would think that a ratio of one to five would be more than adequate. That even maybe too much.
Leahy: I would agree with you on that.
Carmichael: One to one makes no sense other than if you understand why its that way. And that gets back to the unions.
Listen to the full third hour:
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