The state of Illinois is tottering on the brink of economic ruin. Mishandled pension funds have resulted in a shortfall of nearly $100 billion, the highest in the country. The state’s credit rating has been downgraded numerous times in the past few years.

The business climate is dreary. Many companies, rocked by steep workers compensation rates and a 60 percent income tax increase introduced by Gov. Pat Quinn, are looking for greener pastures, with some moving out of state.

One can only imagine how many businesses have not been started because of the state of the state’s economy. Unemployment is at 9.5 percent, nearly two full percentage points above the high national rate of 7.6 percent.

The crime rate is among the top five in the nation. A recent study showed that six of every 1,000 residents is a gang member. The governor’s office has served as a jumping-off point to prison, with the frequency of ex-governors in stripes beyond a national joke.

So is our fearless leader rolling up his sleeves and tackling the major problems facing Illinois? Well, maybe.

But first he wants to tell us what to feed our children and how much television they may watch. A proposal to dictate how daycare centers must treat our children has been launched.

The proposal, carried by the Department of Children and Family Services, targets the real threats to Illinois: cookies and Sesame Street. Actually Sesame Street is a double offender, what with the Cookie Monster and all.

Among other things, the new rules would require daycare providers to offer children at least two periods daily of playtime outdoors, depending on the weather. Kids also would be prevented from remaining still for 30 minutes, outside of scheduled nap times.

Anyone who has raised toddlers realizes that is an easy rule to follow. Most can’t sit still for 10 minutes, let alone 30.

Anyway, all this is being put together by DCFS and a legislative panel and could be in place within a few months. Daycares would be prohibited from offering snacks with high sugar or fat content or with butter substitutes.

Hmm. I wonder what butter substitutes are made from — corn and soybeans? We can’t have that in a state that annually ranks in the top two in production of both of those crops.

Actually, many of the rules are probably good. As we all become more aware of the importance of nutrition, we should adjust our diets and make an attempt to increase exercise. And most daycare operators doubtless already practice many of the things that would be required under this proposal.

But that isn’t the point. Most of these places — at least in rural Illinois — are small businesses operated by members of the community who know the parents they serve.

Decisions there should be left to the parents. They have every right to ask about the care of their children, make suggestions and move them to another facility if they don’t believe they are being cared for properly.

That, however, doesn’t fit into the nanny-state utopia imagined by liberal politicians. Like New York City’s Michael Bloomberg, they believe that we don’t know what’s good for us, that we must look to almighty government to tell us how to live.

Meanwhile, Illinois slides into the abyss. But at least we won’t be lectured by Big Bird.