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Rauner doubles down, pivots to economy

Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013

* From a Bruce Rauner press release…

“Springfield politicians [yesterday] voted to slap a small bandage on an open wound. While it may help them temporarily feel better, it does little to fix the real problems facing Illinois. The pension system remains broken and badly underfunded. State spending has never been higher, or less productive. Another tax hike is looming around the corner. State government is in desperate need of reform. Our economy continues to suffer, and far too many Illinoisans remain out of work. The fact is after decades of career politicians running things in Springfield, expectations of what Illinois can accomplish are far too low. We can and must do better. I’ll shake things up in Springfield and deliver results that will truly bring back Illinois.”

Notice that he’s now pivoting to things that aren’t easily solved by passing a single bill, like it was with pension reform.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - RNUG - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:06 am:

    Rauner’s right about the pensions and taxes, but for the wrong reasons.

    If I need to elaborate the above statement, you haven’t been paying attention …

  2. - Walter Mitty - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:13 am:

    He is correct. And with RNUG agreeing with my thinking I feel better with my belief that in 20 years or so, the benefit will not be there close to even this deal. Permanent tax increase and cost shift will happen. This is no different than 1997. Just kicks the can. I have even less idea who to vote for. There is no solution offered by Rauner, and after this, what is the real separation between parties? Will they stop spending? What will stop them this time? I don’t have an answer either, but simple math says much deeper cuts must come. Maybe that is the cost shift?Thanks for the insight as always here!

  3. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:18 am:

    Rauner was selling snake oil on pensions. I saw today that his spokesman Kass is dutifully regurgitating the talking points.

    The constitutionality of the bill that passed is dicey, to say the least. Peddling the nonsense that the GA could unilaterally shift employees from pension plans into a 401K is either willfully ignorant or simply dishonest.

    Illinois Constitution, Article XIII, Section 5:

    Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which
    shall not be diminished or impaired.–

    If Farmer Bruce really wants to change the pension system, he’s pushing the wrong constitutional amendment.

  4. - downstate commissioner - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:18 am:

    Blah,Blah, Blah…another Quinn, saying nothing that will work…

  5. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:22 am:

    I recall that a number of years some school districts sued the state because it failed to fund the schools to the constitutionally required 50% level but they lost in the courts. I may be remembering this wrong so am actually inquiring. If true, it could be a sign of how the courts would view this particular issue, clear constitutional language notwithstanding.

  6. - RNUG - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:24 am:

    Walter Mitty @ 9:13 am:

    First, I’m not working for any campaign at the Gov level; a local race yes but not any state-wide race.

    Of the horses in the Gov race, to me the only one who seems to be worth a second look is Rutherford. He at least hedged when asked about getting rid of the temp income tax increase. He correctly came out against the pension bill because of the rule of law (regardless of whatever his true motivation was). And if anyone of the 5 knows the state’s fiscal condition, he does.

    I can’t say Dan R will be a good Gov for the State, but he will probably be the least bad … which might be all we can hope for.

  7. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:25 am:

    I posted my above comment on the we are one stream - more appropriate in my mind to post there. Curious about learned folks opinion of this, if they are of a mind.

  8. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:28 am:

    DD, there’s no 50% requirement in the Constitution. The language is “primary responsibility.”

  9. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:30 am:

    I agree with what RNUG, in that the problem is a long-term shortage of revenue. I also was intrigued by RNUG’s suggestion, that instead of the very difficult task of amending the constitution and passing a progressive income tax, the income tax could be raised, and everyone earning under a certain amount can be given a deduction (I hope I understood this correctly).

    Madigan will eat Rauner alive and slammed him when when he said Rauner thinks he can come to Springfield as an outsider, with an $18 watch, and just change things.

  10. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:30 am:

    Apples and oranges, Dan. The provision in questions says - “The State has the primary responsibility for financing the system of public education.” Pretty ambiguous. The questions there were - does “primary” mean 51%? Does it mean 51% overall, or every single school district (many districts now get more than 51% of their money from the state)? Does “financing” mean providing the money out of state resources, or insuring that financing is available (i.e., by making sure local property tax rate authority levels are adequate). And the provision in question is in a section labeled “Goals” and contains other provisions that couldn’t possibly be enforced by a court. See

  11. - In the Middle - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:33 am:

    “I’ll shake things up in Springfield and deliver results…”

    Yeah, rah, rah, rah… blah, blah, blah. Funny how many people think they’re the answer to all our problems.

  12. - RNUG - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:35 am:

    dupage dan @ 9:22 am:

    You’re remembering it more or less correctly.

    The issue then and the issue in IFT(1975) was HOW the GA funded things. The ISC is very reluctant to order the GA to do anything on budgetary policy issues due to separation of powers questions.

    When it has came to pension clause diminishment cases outside of the funding question, the ISC has been pretty consistent in supporting the existing employee / retiree against any cuts.

    Most of what is in SB0001 is cuts; some to existing workers/retirees and some to new hires. Like -Old and In The Way-, I expect part of the bill will be upheld and severed from the unconstitutional parts.

  13. - OneMan - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:41 am:

    The question is, if Raunner pivots and says it wasn’t tough enough can he convince voters that the answer is to really screw over the participants?

    Also what are the odds the court rules on this before the primary (slim) how about the general (not bad I guess).

  14. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:45 am:

    ==I’ll shake things up in Springfield ==

    I think Rod Blagojevich said the same thing. He did indeed shake things up by making a complete mess of state government and by ending up in jail. I don’t have much faith in somebody who says they will shake things up.

  15. - So. ILL - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 9:49 am:

    This is a brilliant move. He’s already moved up enough in the polls that he can use his new windfall to bury the “career” politicians. What more does a low information voting populace need these days? A few promises here, a few slams there, lots of exposure on TV and radio, and boom you’re the guy. I love the fact that there is so much outrage over his lack of specifics on this site. Spouting platitudes and making promises to deliver on political impossibilities? In Illinois politics? Say it ain’t so! For reference see: Illinois history.

  16. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:02 am:

    To add just a bit to Anon’s thorough answer on the “primary responsibility” matter, I believe it was under Gov. Edgar (help me out Schnorf) that either the entire TRS pension contribution or the annual increase was scored as education funding. Reasonable people could debate if that is right or wrong, but in any case, that dollar amount, then or now, moves the needle appreciably in the State’s favor.

  17. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:06 am:

    Oh, and as a number of folks predicted yesterday, Baron von Carhartt’s new table-pounder is taxes. That roll call was barely in the books before Kass’ screeching screed hit the Web.

  18. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:11 am:

    It is not surprising to see FarmerBrucey shift from his loss in the pension debate to a new issue — but how can he pick the economy?

    As part of the hedge fund hustling industry that worked with the predatory lenders and their allies to destroy the national economy his new concerns about jobs in IL quite odd.

    Kinda like the arsonist opening a home repair shop from the back of his station wagon.
    Getting ahead of the other GOPies really is much of victory.

  19. - Bill White - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:13 am:

    The big lie continually being spread about is that Illinois is a “high tax” state. It is not.

    Of course everyone wants lower taxes, however, many states (Wisconsin as a convenient example) actually have higher aggregate state & local taxes than Illinois.

  20. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:17 am:

    BTW Kassamoron just tried to explain his PRivate Ryan column to the broadcast bunny partner…she was speechless and then said it made no sense.
    FarmerBrucey needs a new PR mouthpiece

  21. - Holdingontomywallet - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:18 am:

    “I’ll shake things up in Springfield and deliver results…”
    Yeah, rah, rah, rah… blah, blah, blah. Funny how many people think they’re the answer to all our problems.”

    Yes, he should have used something like “Hope and Change”.

  22. - MrJM - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:18 am:

    “Springfield politicians [yesterday] voted to slap a small bandage on an open wound.”

    Baron Carhartt would have us ditch the bandage and slap on an $18 watch.

    – MrJM

  23. - enlightened - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:20 am:

    I think early advantage Quinn on this passage…..Rauner wanted to run on this issue, and I was sort of looking forward to that because it would increase overall public knowledge of the impossible fiscal situation Illinois is facing.

    Now that the pension deal is done (for now), it will be interesting to see what Rauner can come up with to fuel his campaign, to extend his momentum.

    As usual, I agree with RNUG that this plan (by itself) doesn’t significantly address the fiscal problems Illinois faces. We will see what happens with the revenue side of things next.

    Also, agree that the cost shift is coming next to local districts and I think this has the potential to blow up on a bigger scale than anything we have seen with this GA pension passage. People will see very quickly with a cost shift (in many districts) that their already too high property taxes are going to get cranked up again, meanwhile their schools are going to be laying off teachers, cutting programs, etc.

  24. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:32 am:

    Does Brady get any love in the primary from the Civvies, IMA and Chamber of Commerce types who urged passage of the bill?

    If it truly was such an important issue to them, you’d think they’d open their wallets.

  25. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:42 am:

    Saw a Rauner ad last night, but the edit took out the “Pension” mess, but still rolled at 30 seconds.

    Anyone else see the new edit on the ad?

  26. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:50 am:

    To - RNUG -,

    Spot on. Rauner can’t make the “turn” at being right for the wrong reasons, specifically because of the bloviating about the Pension Mess to begin with in his campaign.

    I will say this, reading all the takes from the talent here has made watching this debate and vote palatable, insofar as taking the points everyone seems to think are relevent and putting them in a context of the governing, and the political, and the actuary contexts, and in reality, as a layman, I appeciate that.

    I think MJM’s little “shot” about the $18 Watch is just as bad as trying to pivot on being right for all the wrong reasons.

    That $18 Watch bit might slink back and bite Rauner even earlier then we all might think.

  27. - Hessie - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:53 am:

    The most important person in the long term Illinois pension debate was a bankruptcy judge in Detroit.

  28. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:54 am:

    The eventual end game will involve some pension cost-shifting to the responsible local employers, i.e. school districts.

    The tax rates must remain over the next few years. The new budgeting processes and spending caps must be enforced. Then and only then will the numbers certainly work for the long term.

    Those treatments and therapies will actually save the limb. Rauner’s, Kirk’s, Martin’s solutions amount to amputation.

  29. - OldSmoky2 - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    “State spending has never been higher, or less productive.”

    Really? It would be nice in the upcoming campaign if the Trib, ST, and other newspapers around the state did a little fact-checking when people like Rauner peddle lies like that. The reality is that Illinois state government spends less per capita in total state expenditures than 47 other states, according to the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation. In per capita terms, Wisconsin’s state spending is almost twice that of Illinois. And Indiana, Michigan, Missouri all spend more than Illinois, too. It’s easy to buy lots of TV ad time and say whatever makes for a good sound bite. But facts are facts.

  30. - Montrose - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:01 am:

    *State spending has never been higher, or less productive.*

    What does that mean? What is his definition of productive? Is he applying his business savvy to say the state’s spending is not producing profit? it is such a meaningless and cynical soundbite.

  31. - A guy... - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    The pension reform debate and run up turned this into somewhat of a “tainted” victory. No balloon drop, no spiking the ball, almost eerie really. If the intent was to make this seem less climatic, it succeeded. We’ll have to watch this going forward to see how the entire interpretation of this pans out. I’ve been watching a long time, I’ve never seen one quite like this.

  32. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:04 am:

    ==The most important person in the long term Illinois pension debate was a bankruptcy judge in Detroit.==

    I don’t see how. A bankruptcy court ruling on a municipality bankruptcy in Michigan has no connection whatsoever to Illinois.

  33. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:08 am:

    ===The most important person in the long term Illinois pension debate was a bankruptcy judge in Detroit.===

    Explain please, and start with how a city and a state are the same.


  34. - Bill White - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:09 am:

    === I don’t see how. A bankruptcy court ruling on a municipality bankruptcy in Michigan has no connection whatsoever to Illinois. ===

    True. However for someone who can purchase millions of dollars in TV ads, truth is not a requirement.

  35. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:09 am:

    Willy, pour two more shots.

    I noticed the edit in the Rauner commercial that ran down here last night. Almost missed it.

  36. - skeptical spectacle - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:44 am:

    Illinois is not a low tax state when you add in property taxes

  37. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 11:47 am:


    I must admit that I fully enjoy when you and wordslinger dismember them. They just whimper away when you guys get done with them.

  38. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 12:00 pm:

    “Illinois is not a low tax state when you add in property taxes”

    There are ideas to change that, such as service taxes and a progressive income tax that requires the wealthiest Illinois residents to pay the most, which is fair, because that’s where all the income is going. I saw a model in which Illinois pays more proportionally in property tax relative to income tax, than the national average.

  39. - skeptical spectacle - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 12:11 pm:


    Yes good ideas, but it will take excellent leadership and establishing trust in voting populace to get ideas like that into law….will be a tall order in this climate, but still must be done.

    Cost shift is key issue if/when it occurs. Will absolutely kill property taxes in certain areas if ability is not given to school boards to modify retirement plans for their own employees.

    Problem occurs when state tells local school boards you are responsible for the retirement plans of your employees and you have no choice in what that retirement plan is….

    I think thoughtful Illinois residents would consider income tax increases coupled with property tax relief……will be tough to get there though with current climate, but as before, must be done.

  40. - RNUG - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 12:29 pm:

    Sage of the South - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 12:17 pm:

    That writer just ignored the games that were played by the appointed City Manager to get Detroit into the Federal Court system instead of the Michigan State system were it should have been.

    We haven’t heard the end of that yet. Even though the judge did issue the order, he made it clear in his comments he had some qualms about it. The process needs to play out some more before there will be any clear answers.

    Illinois law on cities declaring bankruptcy is much stronger and pretty much prevents it. While Detroit bears watching, right now I don’t see too much applicability to the Illinois situation.

  41. - Rudy - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 12:37 pm:

    Springfield? I’m gonna shake it up, baby. Twist (the facts) and Shout (at my staff).

  42. - Challengerrt - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 2:13 pm:

    There’s something else to think about. When the supreme court rules, if their smart they will also be thinking, Ummm if we agree with the GA, they might start messing with our pensions and we sure don’t want them to do that. And you know for sure that the GA will mess with the Judge’s pensions if they get the go ahead. No one is safe!

  43. - cod - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 2:52 pm:

    The loss of the pension liability as an issue is not so bad for Rauner. As Cullerton said on WGN, the pension cut is only a $1B offset of the $5.4B loss facing the state if the tax surcharge is lost. Given that golden opportunity, I am sure mr. R can manufacture another crisis quite soon. Most likely something related to programs for the working poor. Anything to avoid fair taxes on the super-wealthy.

  44. - Now - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 4:36 pm:

    Isn’t it terrible that Rauner has a quick response team to change an ad?! Continues to scare you doesn’t he

  45. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 4:42 pm:

    - Now -,

    Nah, it’s easier to change fairy tales and change those than actually tell people about themselves.

    He scares me that he thinks …he can buy us all, yeah.

  46. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 4, 13 @ 4:46 pm:

    =I’ll shake things up in Springfield and deliver results that will truly bring back Illinois.”=

    He needs to say this more often and he should truly use “truly” more often. He should also consider shaking a bit as he says it to align with his ads. And his campaign stationery should show the words “shake things up in Springfield” shaking.

    I mean really get the “shaking” message out there. It really, really “resonates.” lol

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