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Specifics, please

Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014

* Madeleine Doubek

The frustrating part of this election year is that few politicians are willing to commit to details that could come back to haunt them. Give Quinn credit for announcing he wants to go back on his word, change the law, and raise taxes to 5 percent. Yet neither he nor Republican challenger Bruce Rauner nor anyone else is giving any of us much detail about how we might create more jobs or live within the 3.75 percent tax rate Democrats passed into law in 2011.

Actually, Gov. Quinn has detailed what would happen if the income tax hike is allowed to expire. It’s all right here.

* What frustrates me so much about the governor is he keeps talking about tons of new spending, like the $700 million net annual cost of sending property owners a $500 check before election day, and every year thereafter.

And then there’s this

Gov. Pat Quinn [yesterday] dangled a possible replacement to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to raise property taxes to restructure two Chicago pension funds: give the city a bigger cut of state income taxes. […]

Mr. Quinn did not discuss how to fund the move given his prior ideas to boost aid to education, pay off state bills, and hand each homeowner an annual $250-a-year state property tax “refund.”

But Mr. Quinn left little doubt in his remarks to the City Club and in answering reporters’ questions that he thinks a deal is available that would be good for him and the mayor, as well as for suburban communities which face their own woes paying for pensions. […]

Until the “temporary” income-tax hike went into effect in 2011, local municipalities received an automatic 10 percent cut of all state income-taxes raised from their residents. That was not the case with the incremental $7 billion or so a year the state gets from the “temporary” income-tax hike.

If the traditional 10 percent share were applied to the entire proposed permanent income-tax hike, Chicago alone would net $140 million to $150 million a year, according to a revised rough estimate by Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation.

Subscribers know more about how Quinn plans to pay for some of this.

But time is fast running out on the spring session. And legislators who are already nervous about voting to make the tax hike permanent before an election may not be amenable to new revenue streams.

* The truth is that Mayor Emanuel badly botched his pension reform bill. He negotiated an agreement with the unions which included a state-mandated local property tax hike without first checking with anybody to see if it could pass the General Assembly or be signed into law. As it turned out, the plan was dead before the ink was dry on the proposal.

And now Quinn is in a huge bind because he’s claiming that Rauner will raise property taxes with his proposed budget cuts.

But that doesn’t give Quinn an excuse to wish into existence magic budget dust.

So, yeah, Rauner is definitely guilty of running away from all specifics. But Quinn can’t continue to hammer his opponent while also refusing to specify how he plans to address this local pension funding issue.

And if he is “open” to discussions, it’s past time that he got those talks off the ground.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


17 Comments
  1. - RNUG - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    When he’s spelling out the specifics, I hope he includes a pair of plans, one of which deals with how to pay the pensions if / when the State loses in court.


  2. - From the 'Dale to HP - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    So why can’t Quinn put this back on Rahm (or Daley*)? But connect the dots between Rauner+Rahm, it’s not like Rahm has a GOTV organization that will help Quinn in November. It can’t be that hard to put this on Rahm, and I’m sure the CTU can give him a few pointers…

    *Putting it on Daley obviously would upset Chicagoans more than Rahm imo and you can’t connect RMD to Rauner as easily. But it’s a thought.


  3. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    While Rauner is using the advantages of being a challenger and forcing Quinn to run on his record, his lack of specifics are infuriating.

    Even more infuriating is the Quinn mentality of pretending like we can still just “pay” for things without actually determining where the money will come from in a zero-sum landscape. The cookie jar is suddenly empty, folks. Adapt or fade away.

    And if those things are infuriating, then Rahm’s actions on the pension bill are downright befuddling. He couldn’t even lift the phone to make a few calls and work on his own behalf? You’re expecting these legislators to fall on their swords for you… without even asking them to? Crazy.


  4. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    Quinn has only been specific in presenting reasons he hasn’t been able to do his job. He wants voters to believe that he couldn’t be an effective governor because of budget restraints.

    It is this political reason Quinn has been making his claim that we have to have the sunset on his lame duck income tax scam repealed.

    It is his excuse-du-campaign. Take that away and you got a governor in office for over five years that couldn’t be any more vague on state budget issues and how they are to be addressed than any of the CapFax bloggers.


  5. - Percival - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    Specifics are dangerous when you are selling the premise that 2 plus 2 equals 6 1/2.


  6. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    I thought yesterday’s proposal was bizarre. Look - free money. Yes, of course every Aldermen thinks it’s swell, but you’ve just blown an even bigger hole in the state budget. I don’t get it. Maybe some PQ partisan can explain it to me - the math, not the politics.


  7. - Walker - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    @VMan: When complaining about commenters who cannot provide any details on solutions to our fiscal problems, you’re speaking about yourself of course.


  8. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    –Yet neither he nor Republican challenger Bruce Rauner nor anyone else is giving any of us much detail about how we might create more jobs or live within the 3.75 percent tax rate Democrats passed into law in 2011.–

    The fantasy of state government creating jobs through the budget continues. How does that happen, exactly, except through increased spending?


  9. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    Gee, I don’t know.
    Who should give voters more specifics on where he wants the state to go on budget issues, a governor running for re-election, OR ME?

    According to you - me?

    That is crazy.


  10. - cover - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 1:56 pm:

    RNUG, the Governor’s budget proposal funds the pension contributions at the same level as if the pension reform bill had not passed. (There are future savings assumed in his 5-year plan, if I remember correctly.) I believe Speaker Madigan also suggested that the House follow the same practice in its budget plan, whenever it’s presented.

    Even if the courts eventually rule in favor of the pension reform law, it’s probably prudent for the powers-that-be to assume that, due to the lawsuits, the reform law won’t provide any savings to the state during fiscal year 2015. And as you have frequently pointed out here, there won’t be any savings at all if the law is overturned.


  11. - Anon - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    Here’s the difference I see between Quinn and Rauner. One of them is telling the public he wants to raise taxes (by making permanent the temporary hike)before the election. The other one isn’t saying what he will do. It’s a safe bet that both will raise taxes one way or another. Only one candidate admits it.


  12. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 2:42 pm:

    == The fantasy of state government creating jobs through the budget continues. How does that happen, exactly, except through increased spending? ==

    Is someone claiming that decreased state spending will lead to more state government jobs? Who is having this “fantasy”?

    It seems pretty well established that decreasing the state government budget leads to a decrease in state government jobs, and vice-versa.


  13. - A guy... - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 2:45 pm:

    ==== Anon - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 2:27 pm:

    Here’s the difference I see between Quinn and Rauner. One of them is telling the public he wants to raise taxes (by making permanent the temporary hike)before the election. The other one isn’t saying what he will do. It’s a safe bet that both will raise taxes one way or another. Only one candidate admits it.====

    The one you say “admits it” is the same one who hung onto the notion of it being temporary for quite some time, you know, til like pretty lately. How many times does your lover get to spurn you?

    I think you were calling out PQ for telling the truth, right? It’s just hard to tell when it’s actually the truth. I don’t think he lies on purpose, I just think he doesn’t know what the truth is. It’s a competency issue. He’s a nice man, but he defines incompetence. He’s having to explain something away almost daily now.


  14. - Anon - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 2:54 pm:

    A guy

    Like your candidate, you provide no information about his position on new revenue. Do you believe if elected he will oppose any and all tax and fee hikes for the next four years?


  15. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 2:59 pm:

    Admits it? The same person who admitted that a 1% increase would protect education, got 2% and then cut education anyhow?

    Please hold off on praising either one of these gents for their honesty.


  16. - Anon - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 3:42 pm:

    One candidate tells voters well before the election he wants to make the tax hike permanent, while the other opposes that proposal but hasn’t told us what he does support. Equal candor? Hardly.


  17. - RNUG - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 4:59 pm:

    - cover - Tuesday, Apr 29, 14 @ 1:56 pm:

    Yes re FY2015. There are a lot of things I don’t like about Quinn, but he has always made the pension payments.

    I was assuming Quinn would be laying out a plan for his next four year term. I just want those plans (FY16-19) to include both scenarios.


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