My self-promotion instict has failed once again because I forgot for the umpteenth time to post my weekly syndicated column.
So, why did Judy Baar Topinka go with a Chicago casino idea to help fund her education, property tax and infrastructure proposals? Well, a general tax increase had been all but ruled out months ago. Polling and focus grouping showed high levels of opposition to a tax hike. Plus, Topinka already has enough troubles with her Republican base without doing something like that.
The campaign had already proposed about $3 billion in Medicaid and other state spending cuts over four years, but she can only back so many cuts. Topinka wants AFSCME’s endorsement and is on track to get the Illinois Education Association’s nod. Her pursuit of those tax-eating groups and others like them makes it highly unlikely that we’ll see many more budget-cutting ideas before November.
Topinka has strongly opposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s asset sale ideas, so that angle was out of the question. Temporary solutions like the four-year infusion of cash from the lottery sale would make her look too much like Blagojevich, so forget that.
Pretty much all that was left was gaming. Voters don’t like gaming all that much, but when given the choice of a tax increase for schools or a limited version of gaming expansion like Topinka has proposed, they’ll go with gaming more often than not, particularly Republican and independent voters.
Promising something big to Chicago’s mayor never hurts, either. Now that Mayor Daley knows his schools will get more money and his city will get more jobs and tourism, he might not be so eager to campaign extra hard for Gov. Blagojevich.
Read the rest to see why she proposed any details at all.