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The Blagojevich=Quinn meme spreads, and a budget roundup

Monday, Jun 29, 2009

* Lots of stories comparing Pat Quinn to Rod Blagojevich over the past few days. Here are some…

* Hynes Hines: Echoes of Rod

* Crain’s: Mr. Quinn borrowed a page from predecessor Rod Blagojevich by spinning a doomsday scenario of social services cutbacks if lawmakers don’t approve his tax hike.

* Tribune: Seeds of mistrust between the legislature and the governor’s office flowered during the antagonistic reign of Rod Blagojevich. But they have resurfaced under new Gov. Pat Quinn, whose budget comments are ever-evolving.

* Erickson: Last year, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich publicly threatened to cut funding for 4-H programs and then reversed course just four days later. He did the same thing earlier in his audacious tenure when he threatened to close prisons in Vandalia, Pontiac and Stateville. For now, millions of Illinoisans who rely on state services must watch the annual debacle unfold again and worry.

* GateHouse: When former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached in January, there was hope at the Capitol that things would run more smoothly. But with the start of a new fiscal year quickly approaching, Illinois is still without a budget.

* Rep. Jack Franks: It was a “my way or the highway” approach that Blagojevich used in an attempt to bully the legislature to his will. And it failed miserably. Thankfully, he was removed from office. Unfortunately, Team Blagojevich was not, and so Illinois finds itself on the brink of a man-made disaster – its abysmal fiscal condition coupled with a lack of a plan for balancing our state budget. The same team that created programs that the legislature never approved is now pushing Gov. Quinn to continue funding these programs.

* The SJ-R has a slightly different take: Nobody can accuse you of being Blagojevich. You’ve been in Springfield working on the budget. You’re still the only elected official under the dome who has proposed a full, balanced budget. Blagojevich is gone. The result is still the same: Gridlock. Cowardice. Avoidance of tough decisions. What does that tell us about legislators? Hit the accelerator, governor. Drive right at them. All that’s at stake is our state.

* Meanwhile

Quinn has given conflicting details on what he ultimately will do if lawmakers don’t come up with more money by Wednesday. He’s adopted various income-tax increase plans in trying to find one that will sell with lawmakers, including switching from a permanent hike to a temporary one and reducing the rate on corporations. He’s pledged to make drastic cuts in services, then countered by saying he would never let that happen. He’s predicted massive layoffs in state government, then scaled back.

“As much as we know this guy, we don’t know him. He has changed every week,” said Sen. Donne Trotter of Chicago, who is the lead budget negotiator for Senate Democrats. “This is a dance, and everyone’s trying to get to know each other.”

* Two former governors offer advice

“The key is, I remember in ‘91 one of the things we thought helped us was finally, by about the third week in July, the members, the rank and file, wanted to go home. They’d seen all the movies and played all the golf they wanted to play and eaten enough at all the restaurants. They were really tired,” Edgar said.

“It was an interesting phenomenon. You could just tell the rank and file finally just started beefing so much I think the leaders - knew they needed to get something resolved.” […]

“I don’t know why the governor would sign the budget they gave him and then make all these horrendous cuts,” Thompson said.

But if Quinn does sign it, Thompson said he’d take it for what it is, a six-month plan, and not a real budget.

* Doug Whitley offers a word of caution

The risk for Republicans is that they’ll be tangled up in a budget crisis that, so far, has largely been the responsibility of the Democratic majority.

Even if they get many of the changes they want, Republicans could share in the blame if the stalemate drags on all summer and ultimately produces an unpopular tax increase and painful service cuts.

“By winning on the intellectual component of budgetary discussions, they risk the Democrats outflanking them on the political message,” said Doug Whitley, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

* More disagreement

The governor signed SB 1609, allowing the state to refinance debt. According to House Democrats, the plan would take advantage of a 4 percent interest rate and save $600 million next fiscal year. It would save $237 million over the life of the bonds.

The bill has been tied to the legislature’s version of a bare bones budget, which has been dubbed the “50 percent budget” because it would fund human services at half the level proposed by the governor.

But Quinn’s spokeswoman Libby White said this afternoon: “There’s no link between the two. This was our bill that was a part of the governor’s original budget proposal.”

* The Daily Herald editorial board is starting to see reality

The reality is, the state’s financial problems run so deep that they cannot be fixed with spending cuts alone. By one estimate, the entire state work force could be laid off and that still wouldn’t come close to erasing the $24 billion budget deficit.

By one estimate? OK, I won’t nitpick.

* Um, Fran, I did live in Cook County.

* Related…

* ADDED: $3.5 million cut could cost $2 billion

* ADDED: Cullerton Urges Colleagues To “Consider” The Senate Tax Plan

* Illinois Student Assistance Commission approves plan for student aid cuts

* Governor signs bill to refinance debt

* Could budget cuts spur crime in Peoria?

* Historic forts await word on state budget

* Politics as usual becomes nightmare

* Senate Dems have budget solution

* Ill. budget crisis should rule out business as usual

* Lawmakers look to pension system to help balance budget

* Quinn’s policies hurt those he says he wants to help

* PJStar: Illinois kicks disabled out of wheelchairs - again

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 10:52 am:

    Quinn would have been wise to take Edgar’s advice early on.

    The thing I remember most about ‘91 is that Edgar didn’t rattle at all; no histrionics, no ultimatums. He said over and over, it’s not the amount of time that matters, but the results.

    He liked being in Springfield all summer; it was his kind of town.

    If I remember correctly, in the end, MJM blinked and it got done in a day or two.

    The two GOP tops (and Quinn) might want to talk to Dillard about that year, since he was Edgar’s chief of staff.


  2. - Deep South - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:01 am:

    The SJ-R has it right. Cowardice. It’s politics at play, not statesmanship. These gutless wonders are in it totally for themselves, read, “Re-elect me.” None are looking at what’s best for the state.


  3. - Leroy - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:25 am:

    But aren’t we going to automatically re-elect Quinn?

    Who else are we going to vote for? Matt Murphy? Dan Proft? Please.

    Statesmanship is a luxury Illinois can Ill-afford

    Ha! I think I am going to print that on a t-shirt…


  4. - Anonymous45 - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:26 am:

    I rarely laud the SJR editorial page, but in this instance, I couldn’t agree more…how is Quinn supposed to remove years of passing the buck as far as the budget is concerned when he has been Governor six months? People, think about it…


  5. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:39 am:

    There are a bunch of games being played. The worst is what happening under the Dome. But that is what we have been seeing for years. The Illinois Democrats control this game, and they have clearly demonstrated that they are not to be allowed to ever do this again. Single party domination ruins governments, and it is worse when the single party is so chock full of corrupted, but sincere, incompetents.

    The other game is the messages coming out of the media - “the State of Illinois is going to hurt….” stories that interview frightened Illinoians who survive on government programs.

    I remember 15 years ago hearing Paul Green tell our class, “if you think it sucks to be poor now, just wait when taxpayers can’t pay more…” The supposed crisis was already being written when Edgar was governor, and it is still being written today. Every year we hear the same human interest media stories about a family that survives on our taxes, and whose lives will be ruined if we change anything.

    This is blackmail. We cannot change anything because someone somewhere is going to get hurt? Exactly how did we ever grow as a society believing that we cannot change policies if they hurt someone, when with every new policy enacted, citizens are expected to do with less of their own wages? This kind of “squeaky wheel gets the cash” approach to government hurts those who are not squeaking and working hard to prevent government dependancy. Do we want more people dependant on government, or do we want more people independant from government? The mentality I have been reaching and hearing about, seems to be promoting dependancy, not independance.

    We cannot make the world whiffle-ball safe. We cannot continually expect a government to protect us from our own decisions, or we end up losing our freedoms.

    People who are dependant will be hurt in this world. Whether or not they get what they need to live comfortably, they still lose. It is vital that government policies do everything they can to reduce the number of dependants on them. In a crisis like this, with the Democrats in control of every statewide office in Springfield, Chicago and Washington, those who earn wages can be expected to lose so that these Democrats can keep their dependant voting constituencies - dependant.


  6. - Princess - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:46 am:

    I should not bother with the waste of time, but just where does ‘Fran’ live? Under a rock with blinders on? Seems to be able only to see what chooses to see.

    I’m not sure what parts of the ‘response’ had me shaking the head the most. Was it the part on the cost of living with the higher gas, blah blah spin that never seems to apply to state workers?

    Maybe the tax levels in Chicago area. While my area my be a bit behind it is rapidly catching up and I believe unemployment here was at or going over 10% in the Peoria area. And empty store and business fronts are on every street.

    Or maybe it was the bit about ‘and other state workers wanting more benfits and less work’. Really? As a state worker my family made concessions last Sept. in their contract. I’m paying more for benefits and don’t recall any added new ones. The work load? The agency and site where I am has seen a large share of it’s workforce slashed over the last 7 to 8 years, the budget deep to the bone while all along the Rod smiling to the media telling all ‘we’re doing more with less’.

    Articles like this are the reason I only happen to catch Illinois Review when Rich links and I pop over to see to what. Too much like watching Fox News and then suddenly changing the channel and seeing the blinders fall away.


  7. - Tom Joad - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:47 am:

    Doug Whitley is now giving out political advice? That’s funny. After his 3 month run for Governor that was ignored by Republican leaders and voters, why would anyone pay attention to what he says.


  8. - Secret Square - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:50 am:

    Blago HAD to have known, years ago, that his policies were going to eventually lead to fiscal disaster, but not cared because he assumed he was going to be outta Dodge and in the White House, Senate, or Cabinet by the time the crisis point hit.

    Remember that one of the reasons behind his frantic efforts to sell Obama’s Senate seat was trying to get a better job for himself, because he didn’t want to be governor anymore. He even said at one point he hoped to be out of office by mid-January (he almost got that wish). I’m sure one very, very big reason for that was that he knew the jig was up, his usual budget tricks weren’t going to work anymore, and he didn’t want to be around when the stuff hit the fan.


  9. - Niles Township - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 12:02 pm:

    Quinn has his issues, but he is nowhere near Blago’s level. The articles comparing the two smack of politics.


  10. - Will County Woman - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 12:14 pm:

    - Anonymous45 - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 11:26 am:

    the governor had more than enough time to think strategically and execute. he didn’t. he took the easy way out by taking the tax increase only route. His failure to execute also suggests that he did not have a plan when he assumed office, though he went around in the run up to blago’s ouster saying that he (quinn) was ready to lead. he has been in this game for 30+ years so he’s not exactly a babe in the woods.

    I appreciate and understand and agree that he is a nice guy. but, that doesn’t mean that he then makes for an effective/good governor. Being governor requires leadership, and sometimes decisiveness. If one is honest, one has to admit that he has been all over the map, and not just on the budget issue. So, stop blaming blago. Stop blaming the republicans.

    The republican legislative leaders have NEVER said no to taxes. They have said over and over and over and over…makes serious, and yes painful, cuts and implement reforms then we will talk about tax increase. what is so unfair, illegimate and incomprehensible about that?

    the governor needed to come to the table with REAL cuts and reforms and tax increase talk. Lisa Madigan said it when the budget was proposed, as did others.


  11. - Anonymous45 - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 12:49 pm:

    WCW: You have failed to impress upon me that Quinn is unilaterally reponsible for the budget mess because of a lack of planning/strategy…there is a ton of positioning and political chicken taking place right now, and no amount of strategy or finesse could have avoided this on Quinn’s part…if I were to blame only one person in a leadershp role, it would be emperor Mike Madigan, who is sitting on his members…folks, like it or not we cannot balance the budget, or even close the gap without a tax increase…check what is going on in other states, and IL’s predicament is not so unique…
    Quinn began to lead at the isthmus of a perfect storm: legislative cowardice and ineptitude, taking over the reins after six years of Blago, and the worst economic downturn in over 25 years…get riled up with your duly elected representatives who chose to sit on their duffs for six months and do nothing…OK, I’m done…


  12. - Cassandra - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 12:55 pm:

    The likelihood that the budget can’t be solved by cuts alone, a mantra repeated ad nauseam by the pro-higher-income tax lobby, doesn’t mean no cuts are possible or advisable. Yet that is basically what the pro-taxers are saying. It’s not worth making a few cuts here and there….just cough up the money and go away. Especially, go away. Don’t watch what the Quinn administration actually does with the money. Trust him…and our tax-loving legislators, of course. They know best.

    If enough cuts could be found to reduce the proposed tax by, say, half a percentage point,
    that could make a big difference since the proposed hike is regressive and lower middle class families will feel it most heavily. These folks really must count their pennies. Yet
    Quinn’s contempt for the financial strains of the middle and lower middle class has been one of his few consistent themes. We are a cash cow…nothing more.

    In fact, Quinn, no doubt looking ahead to “campaign contributions” a la our Blago, seems only interested in reducing tax increase pain for corporations.His all-over-the map deficit figures may not represent confusion but may represent a calculated attempt to confuse the public so that
    when he declares (post tax hike) that there is no need for cuts after all, he can more easily claim he’s surprised too. Or, to put it more bluntly, more easily deceive the public.


  13. - Ghost - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 1:08 pm:

    If Quinn was willing, he could open up a neat trick bag by resigning. this would put L mad in the Governors chair.


  14. - Anonymous45 - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 1:22 pm:

    Cassandra: I never said efficiencies and cuts were off the table…why do you insist that a tax increase should be? Get real…


  15. - Cassandra - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 2:07 pm:

    I didn’t say a tax increase was off the table. I said that Quinn is making concessions in every arena except the size of the proposed personal income tax increase. He has stuck to that while vacillating on a number of other budget related matters.

    He has also been inconsistent on the size of the deficit and on what cuts he actually, realistically would made (the layoffs and the social service cuts now appear to have been hyperbole designed to gain support for the tax increase). He has said almost nothing about looking for other revenue sources…too much work, I guess.

    For Quinn, shared sacrifice means shared by everybody but middle class taxpayers. The only things he has done to his personal income tax proposal since he initially proposed it has been to offer to lower the exemption and make it even more regressive.

    Maybe we’d be better off if Quinn did resign.


  16. - Anonymous45 - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 2:41 pm:

    That’s just a great idea Cassandra…more chaos is just what we need…


  17. - A Citizen - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 2:48 pm:

    Maybe Q should be impeached for Nonfeasance? Hmmm?


  18. - Secret Square - Monday, Jun 29, 09 @ 3:48 pm:

    “Nonfeasance”? I take it that means not doing, or refusing to perform, one’s duties as an officeholder, as opposed to “malfeasance” which means doing one’s job in an unethical or illegal manner.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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