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What you see is what you get

Monday, Mar 31, 2014

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

It turns out that the governor and the two Democratic legislative leaders met privately for at least several days to negotiate details of Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget address.

The highly unusual move means that most, if not all aspects of Gov. Quinn’s budget proposals last week have already been agreed to by the Democrats who run the Illinois Statehouse.

House Speaker Michael Madigan tipped his hand after the governor’s address during Jak Tichenor’s invaluable “Illinois Lawmakers” Public Television program when he twice insisted that the governor’s property tax proposal was actually his idea.

The governor proposed eliminating the state’s property tax credit, which is currently worth five percent of property taxes paid, and replacing it with an automatic $500 tax refund.

That idea was apparently just one of Madigan’s demands in exchange for supporting the governor’s proposal to make the “temporary” income tax hike permanent, which was the centerpiece of Quinn’s speech.

Both Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton offered their full support for the governor’s income tax proposal on Tichenor’s show, with Madigan saying he planned to move a bill forward this spring and Cullerton saying he’d let Madigan go first to make sure there were enough votes, and then move ahead in his own chamber, which tends to be far more liberal than Madigan’s on stuff like this.

The Senate Republicans have claimed that the Democrats were in cahoots this entire spring legislative session to make it appear the budgetary outlook was so bad that the tax hike absolutely had to be made permanent. At least in one respect, they were right. The Democrats have apparently been working closely together for the first time in anyone’s memory. Budget addresses are rarely, if ever, negotiated this much in advance of the actual speech.

Quinn spent quite a bit of time during his address not so subtly attacking his Republican opponent Bruce Raune. Quinn ruled out ever supporting a tax on retirement income, saying he wouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of senior citizens. Rauner has said he’d be open to the idea. Quinn also said he would oppose any effort to tax small businesses that provide services. Rauner has said he’d be open to a service tax.

But Quinn also announced a five-year, $1.5 billion investment into his “Birth to Five” initiative, which he has claimed would focus on prenatal care, access to early learning opportunities and parental support.

The Ounce of Prevention Fund lavished praise on Quinn’s proposal after the speech, and warned of the “potentially devastating cuts that would be necessary without adequate revenue,” which seemed like an all but endorsement of the governor’s proposal to keep income taxes at their current levels.

Why is that so important? Well, Bruce Rauner’s wife Diana is the Ounce of Prevention Fund’s president.

So, while Rauner blasted the governor’s budget address as yet another “broken promise” to Illinoisans, said Quinn was “doubling down on his failed policies” by proposing to keep the tax hike permanent and asserted that he could “balance the budget without more tax increases,” Mrs. Rauner’s highly respected organization was saying just the opposite, that the budget proposal was a “vital investment in the state’s future at a critical juncture.”

Heh.

Then again, Diana Rauner’s more liberal approach could help soften her husband’s hardcore image

Before the speech, Speaker Madigan warned his House Democrats during a closed-door caucus meeting to “keep their powder dry” about the governor’s proposals. Madigan doesn’t want his members getting too far ahead of the game and making statements that they might have to take back when the velvet hammer comes down on their heads later in the session.

As a consequence, not many were eager to talk about the governor’s income tax hike proposal. It wasn’t difficult to see in their faces that they knew what was coming, however. They are all in for yet another extremely tough vote this year. Few want to take that vote, but most know they’ll probably have little to no choice in the matter.

One nervous member expressed the hope that the tax hike would simply be extended until the end of the fiscal year, then let Rauner deal with it if he’s elected. But that idea was quickly shot down by a top Madigan lieutenant.

“And vote for this again?” he asked, incredulously. They already took one vote, after an election during a late evening lame duck session that they’ve been hammered with constantly for over three years. No more of those, apparently.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

40 Comments
  1. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:30 am:

    ” At least in one respect, they were right. The Democrats have apparently been working closely together for the first time in anyone’s memory. Budget addresses are rarely, if ever, negotiated this much in advance of the actual speech.”

    So perhaps there was a valid reason for a delay in the budget address. This is certainly better than the usual addresses which are mostly DOA as soon as they are read.


  2. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:31 am:

    ” Quinn ruled out ever supporting a tax on retirement income, saying he wouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of senior citizens. Rauner has said he’d be open to the idea. Quinn also said he would oppose any effort to tax small businesses that provide services. Rauner has said he’d be open to a service tax.”

    I wonder how the anti-tax GOP voters will react to this.


  3. - Perry Noya - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:32 am:

    Does any reader of this blog know anybody in Illinois who ever believed that the “temporary” income-tax increase would be temporary? Not a snarky question, I actually would like to know.


  4. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:37 am:

    I’m not convinced yet that a House vote is a sure thing.

    But it’s interesting to see Quinn, Madigan and Cullerton get together ahead of time.


  5. - Harvey - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:38 am:

    Regarding the Ounce of Prevention’s support for the Governor’s budget for early childhood, and their President’s marital partner, perhaps we need to recoin a phrase: “Bedfellows make strange politics.”


  6. - UIC Guy - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:38 am:

    @Perry: I thought that it might be, that the political ‘leaders’ of this state would lack the courage to extend it. We so obviously need the revenue that it brings (at least until we follow almost everyone else and adopt that novel and radical idea of a graduated tax) that I was worried that it might not be extended. So I guess yes, is the answer, but not because of a lack of cynicism!


  7. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:40 am:

    Perry

    “Does any reader of this blog know anybody in Illinois who ever believed that the “temporary” income-tax increase would be temporary? Not a snarky question, I actually would like to know.”

    I know there are a lot of people who truely believe the temporary tax was a big lie. IMHO, it was made temporary only because that was the only way to get the votes to pass the bill. The reality is that the citizens of Illinois are demanding a certain level of services, and the revenue stream was insufficient to maintain the services desired. After seeing how the temporary tax hike only somewhat reduced the problem, it became readily apparent that Illinois needs more revenue. The argument can be made that programs cuts are also part of the solution, but the citizens of Illinois, through the ballot box, have voted for the services the Democrats advocate. They have to be paid for somehow.


  8. - Roadiepig - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:42 am:

    So, while Rauner blasted the governor’s budget address as yet another “broken promise” to Illinoisans, said Quinn was “doubling down on his failed policies” by proposing to keep the tax hike permanent and asserted that he could “balance the budget without more tax increases,” Mrs. Rauner’s highly respected organization was saying just the opposite, that the budget proposal was a “vital investment in the state’s future at a critical juncture.”

    Nice. Gig your opponent by getting the approval from the spouse of your political challenger for a big policy idea that runs counter to what he stands for.

    That brought a smile to my Monday morning ;-)


  9. - Wumpus - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:47 am:

    This is interesting as this is a tax that would seemingly “hurt” the poor. I like it as much as i can as it affects everyone. The tax rebate affects homeowners primarily.


  10. - VanillaMan - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:47 am:

    What you see is what you get?
    No. Quinn lied. Now the three tops have made a deal behind everyone’s back to prevent anything from changing. If you like the way things are done in Illinois - you have hope voters won’t vote for change. If you don’t like the way things are in Illinois - you know who needs to be voted out.

    More bad taxes are bad. New taxes on new markets are a necessary evil. Quinn is proposing higher taxes on a broken tax system which will not fix anything. Rauner is open to new taxes on new market sources, which is how things get fixed in a changing world.

    Once again - Quinn is no change candidate, except he wants more of our change. He has to hope that a majority of voters this November see change as bad.


  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    ===I wonder how the anti-tax GOP voters will react to this.===

    Bruce Rauner is not a Republican. Rauner is building a Raunerite Cake. He got to the “Finals”, but to expect Reagan Rule Republican principles is naive to what both Rauners and the Rauner Crew are baking.

    To the Post,

    ===Before the speech, Speaker Madigan warned his House Democrats during a closed-door caucus meeting to “keep their powder dry” about the governor’s proposals. Madigan doesn’t want his members getting too far ahead of the game and making statements that they might have to take back when the velvet hammer comes down on their heads later in the session.===

    The most crucial aspect of this to work for the Governor and the Leaders of both Veto-Proofed chambers is for the Mushrooms to not get ahead of where the next move needs to be played. The three can agree, but if those Mushrooms decide to take it upon themself to go beyond the next chess move, all can be lost in strategy against Rauner, and the handful of races MJM cares about. The HDems and to some extent the SDems, they can drive the “.01%” narrative at the street and precinct level if timed correctly with verbage being directed centrally, not individually.

    This goes beyond May. This is a summer narrative, coming together at State Fair, and beyond the Labor Day kickoff of labor and the minimum wage narrative too. The three are laying out where they want this campaign framed. Will the Mushrooms buy in is the question.

    Great take, Rich, good read.


  12. - VanillaMan - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    What you see is what you get?
    I see three shells - one pea - and Michael J. Madigan moving the damn shells around.

    Nothing to see here.


  13. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:50 am:

    I believe that the tough tax votes with longer-term implications should be taken as soon as possible, given the very real possiblity that Rauner will be governor and the unknown of having to deal with him.


  14. - Arizona Bob - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:50 am:

    It will be initersting to see how many Dem legislators who PROMISED they would not support making the temporary income tax permanent will address this with the voters.

    It’ll also be interesting to see what Reps Madigan will let vote against it, knowing it will pass, to save political face.

    You can bet that any seriously contested races (what few there are) will have this as a central issue.


  15. - Bill White - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:52 am:

    @Grandson

    = I believe that the tough tax votes with longer-term implications should be taken as soon as possible . . . =

    I agree 100%


  16. - Palm Tree - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    Didn’t Madigan just pass a House Resolution that locked in revenue estimates without extending the tax increase? What’s he for anyway?


  17. - AFSCME Steward - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    OW

    “Bruce Rauner is not a Republican. Rauner is building a Raunerite Cake. He got to the “Finals”, but to expect Reagan Rule Republican principles is naive to what both Rauners and the Rauner Crew are baking.”

    This is what I find interesting, what do the anti-tax GOP voters do ? Do they stay home ? Do they voter Rauner anyway, since he is the GOP nominmee ? Do they go with a 3rd party ? How will this influence the election ? Coming out in favor of new taxes does not make Rauner much different than Quinn in their eyes. A tax is a tax. Disagreement on what should be taxed, or how it should be done is not important. This issue could keep a lot of GOP voters home in November.


  18. - Norseman - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    It’s nice to see the three working together. That’s not something we see enough in Illinois.


  19. - Rod - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    Rich I don’t disagree with you that the Ounce of Prevention Fund statement made by Elliot Regenstein, Senior Vice President, Advocacy & Policy seemed like an all but endorsement of the governor’s proposal to keep income taxes at their current levels. But I have no idea whatsoever as to the degree Diana Rauner was involved in the drafting of the statement your article cited.

    Clearly she did not prohibit Regenstein from making that statement nor apparently prohibit the organization’s five registered lobbyists and two contractual lobbying firms from supporting making the income tax increase permanent as the statement also implied writing “As budget discussions now shift to the General Assembly, we urge it to make the right choice and follow the governor’s lead in investing our dollars where they can make a significant, long-term impact—investing in Illinois children and families.”

    An interesting project would be to contact Diana and see if she has put a fire wall in place between herself and governmental policy issues that could impact her husband’s race for governor.


  20. - Wensicia - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:08 am:

    “It’s nice to see the three working together. That’s not something we see enough in Illinois.”

    The prospect of Rauner becoming governor spurred this sudden kumbaya.


  21. - Toure's Latte - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:11 am:

    Each vote will be less and less of a big deal. 5% is here to stay and there will not be any repercussions. Good grief the IL GOP does not have a counter-budget based on 3% still. They have become the party of NO, as in NO one needs to listen to them because they have NO idea what to do.


  22. - foster brooks - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:11 am:

    plain and simple the big 3 know that their pension reform bill will be found unconstitutional.If anyone has been paying attention over the years already know each one of them has stated this at one time or another. Point to arizona, they see the writing on the wall.


  23. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:12 am:

    “Bruce Rauner is not a Republican.”

    People talk about the low Democratic turnout in non-presidential elections. I wonder how many Republicans will stay home and not vote for Rauner because they believe he is a carpetbagging carpetbomber, a Democrat in Republican clothing who smashed his way into the nomination.


  24. - A guy... - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:18 am:

    I realize only one person might be seeing my posts, if that. The article is good and comprehensive. In my own opinion, it demonstrates that Madigan and Cullerton have privately met with Quinn to help him sell himself down the river before publicly watching him doing so. It’s disingenuous to propose more spending programs when you’re hemorrhaging debt. But here we are. Nice conceptual ideas with no resources to pay for them. These legislators may have thought SSM and Pension Reform were tough votes back in the district. Wait until this one hits the floors. Political career casualties will be racked up daily.


  25. - Lunchbox - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    Well, we knew Pat Quinn was at best the fifth most powerful Democrat in this state behind Madigan, Durbin, Cullerton, and Rahm. What intrigues me the most is Bruce Rauner’s wife’s organization supporting the budget.


  26. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    - AFSCME Steward -,

    I truly don’t think that GOP voters will stay home because of either Rauner, but only speaking for myself, I can’t vote fit Quinn and I will not vote for Rauner, so I will not vote in the Governor’s race. Voting 3rd Party may only help Rauner, so if I leave it, it might be the most damaging to a Rauner Cake.

    To be fair to the cake Rauner’s Crew is baking, they are quite fine, it appears to try to go farther and farther left and farther away from the GOP period to try to defeat Pat Quinn. I am not a “target” for them; moderate GOP voter. They want open-minded moderates that lean Dem to attack Quinn on one front, and AA voters at a clip greater than Jim Edgar as the other front against Quinn. The third layer is the lemmings who believe the “Carhartt”, “Shutdown government” and “take it to Madigan” group who vote against their better selves.

    To this Post, to wrap this together, making it about the “.01%” and coupling both Rauners with Oberweis, with trying to frame the making permanent the income tax a class warfare framing tries to take some ingredients away from a Rauner Crew cake.

    The Rauner Crew’s two biggest fears are that they truly have no “base”, meaning a constituency they can point to, including geographically, as a place to control a turnout with a great plurality, and that, indeed, the GOP who see the next coming of Rod in both Rauners, won’t “come home”

    If the Unions come out like they did in 2010, and in force with only 20 days to organize, those two fears above will not help that cake fully bake.

    The three working together to get this done and to bed by May is part and parcel to deflating that rising cake.


  27. - fed up - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:24 am:

    - Perry Noya - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 9:32 am:

    Does any reader of this blog know anybody in Illinois who ever believed that the “temporary” income-tax increase would be temporary? Not a snarky question, I actually would like to know.

    Perry, When the tax passed Rich Miller and 90% of this board defended this as a temporary tax.


  28. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    –Perry, When the tax passed Rich Miller and 90% of this board defended this as a temporary tax.–

    Everything in politics and government is temporary. Everything is subject to change.


  29. - phocion - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:34 am:

    ==They already took one vote, after an election during a late evening lame duck session that they’ve been hammered with constantly for over three years. No more of those, apparently.==

    Wanna bet?


  30. - Walker - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:42 am:

    Perry: Yes , there were those who believed that this could be temporary, and the arithmetic actually worked, if four key things happened in addition to the increase itself — pension reform that included some sharing with local employers, a firm spending cap that didn’t change with the early years, refinancing the debt at lower rates, and a recovery about 30% stronger than what we experienced. All were achievable and on the table, or at least had some potential. The key bills were watered down, or not passed, and the economy grew but not enough.

    Way too optimistic, IMHO, but not entirely cynical, by some legislators.

    I believed and argued we should announce it as permanent, and then take the opportunity, if things turned out as positive as some imagined, to do a tax cut. That approach lost.

    The leaders might have acted “in cahoots” but certainly not in order to exaggerate the fiscal hole we are in. Those are hard to overstate.


  31. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    ===Does any reader of this blog know anybody in Illinois who ever believed that the “temporary” income-tax increase would be temporary?===

    Well, almost a third, 31 percent, of Republicans thought it would expire on schedule, according to a fairly recent Tribune poll: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-17/news/ct-illinois-republican-party-met-20140214_1_gop-voters-gay-marriage-rights-state-gop/2


  32. - Perry Noya - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 11:23 am:

    Thanks for citing the Tribune poll, Rich. As always, you are the best informed.


  33. - Anon - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 11:37 am:

    == “And vote for this again?” ==

    The difference is the second time there would be Republican support for whatever tax hike Rauner supports. One would think it would be better for the Dems to not have the whole responsibility for raising taxes. The only way to avoid it is to let Rauner take the lead, if he is elected.


  34. - too obvious - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    So it’s okay to talk about the spouse now. Check.


  35. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:18 pm:

    ===So it’s okay to talk about the spouse now. Check.===

    Now wait. Rauner’s first presser had his wife, a Democrat, be introduced as a Democrat for Rauner. Mrs. Rauner was introduced, spoke, and explained why she supports her husband.

    Mrs. Rauner was presented as someone who would support the “Republican”.

    The Rauner Crew made her a prop, no one else did, and lest we forget all the Democratic donations were explained at times between common goal relationships and Mrs. Rauner’s Democratic background.

    So, lets not pretend anyone is attacking Mrs. Rauner.


  36. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    “Now wait. Rauner’s first presser as the GOP Nominee, …”


  37. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    Rauner is the leader of the priveledged class and just wants to grind the working man into the dirt. Quinn and his crew have lied to us time and time again, tried to gut our retirement and stolen hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in wages owed us. Yet the union wants us to continue to vote for this guy. Are they crazy? Henry hates to hear it but all union employees should take a long look at the third party candidates, take this from a lifelong democrat, We now owe the Dems. nothing, why keep feeding the dog that bites you?


  38. - Robert the Bruce - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 1:41 pm:

    ==But it’s interesting to see Quinn, Madigan and Cullerton get together ahead of time==

    Yeah, what changed? Is Quinn learning? Or is Madigan becoming less petulant for some reason? (it wasn’t too long ago that he didn’t have a cell phone and Gov. Quinn couldn’t even get in touch with him).


  39. - Robo - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 2:17 pm:

    -Yeah, what changed?-

    Nothing’s changed. It’s always been about the hdem caucus, the hdem caucus and the hdem caucus. The Speaker & President have likely seen a trend in polling and want to make sure there isn’t a rout that could disturb the force.


  40. - RNUG - Monday, Mar 31, 14 @ 11:25 pm:

    ” Quinn ruled out ever supporting a tax on retirement income, saying he wouldn’t balance the budget on the backs of senior citizens.”

    No, Quinn just wants to balance it on the backs of senior citizen state retirees.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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* Collins ranked MLB's No. 9 catching prospect
* With maturity comes lofty expectations for Eloy
* Pirates rebuild not met with enthusiasm
* Moncada guiding Robert during mini-camp
* White Sox announce player development staff
* Robert at ease during Sox hitters mini-camp
* Moncada guiding Robert during mini-camp


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