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Nailed it

Friday, Jul 31, 2015

* Steve Schnorf in comments today

It seems to me that much of what we are seeing is rational behavior (although whether it is responsible is a different question). Both sides prefer to avoid, if possible, owning the tax increase that’s coming. Both sides prefer, if possible, to avoid owning the program cuts that are coming. Certainly the Ds want to avoid owning even the small things that are probably coming that will impair working people. Surely the admin prefers not owning the less moderate of the proposals it has made, at least in the minds of the people (and their supporters) most negatively impacted by them. The governor appears completely sincere in his belief that significant changes need to be made in Illinois’ business environment if economic growth and employment is going to even get back to it’s previous normal levels. And it’s hard to doubt the Ds sincerity in their defense of the pink/blue collar workers of the state (although the benefit to some of their traditional non working class funders is also a given).

If I’m even close to right, then it’s going to be very hard to get people to abandon what they believe to be rational behavior and engage in behavior that seems antithetical to their goals. But that is what a compromise is going to require. Very hard.

* And then an hour and a half later, another Schnorf comment

Let me suggest another thought. Although we have a few hard left and right wingers posting on here, most of us are pretty moderate. Setting aside whether the governor’s specific proposals are the right ones or not, I suspect that most of us agree with the proposition that it’s pretty important to do some things to improve Illinois economic and employment climate. I believe that our moderate mindset is a part of what makes many on here wince at some of the governor’s proposals.

That’s not how we would do it at all, me included. Build consensus as you go, chip away at the problem as solutions are agreed to, use the agreed bill process, that’s how most of us grew up politically/governmentally, and we still believe in that approach.

I’m not trying to channel the governor here, I’m just trying to kind of intuit what he might be thinking. First, I think he believes the state’s situation is quite serious, more serious than most of us think, and I think that he believes a time consuming solution is inadequate. It would be pretty hard to argue that we’ve made a heck of a lot of progress in the past 10 or 15 years. Two recessions and our state government’s actions and inactions have left us with a lot of unpaid old bills, seriously degraded reputation in the credit markets, too much underemployment. too many people simply giving up and dropping out of the workforce, too much immigration out and too few people moving in, too few state employees in many program areas to do their jobs properly, you name it.

I suspect the Governor came to the conclusion that the gradual moderate approach wouldn’t adequately address our problem; essentially, we lose too much ground and time each year so that gradual solutions are a problem compounder, not a solution. Something pretty significant needs to be done as quickly as possible.

If you believe that, and also believe more drastic solutions are needed than can be accomplished thru the old tried and true approach (an agreed bill process is never going to lead to a dramatic change in one fell swoop) it is probably reasonable to say let’s do it all at once, not drag the pain out over two or three sessions with a lot of hard votes each year: rip the bandage off and fix the problems now.

Again, if I’m even close it’s easier to understand why we are where we are. But I don’t have a clue how we get out of it.

This shows, again, why I believe Steve Schnorf is one of the smartest human beings I’ve ever known.

And if even he can’t figure out how to get out of this mess, we’re in deep trouble, campers.

Deep.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

35 Comments
  1. - DuPage - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:01 pm:

    Some cuts may need to be made, but cutting the income tax back was the wrong thing at the wrong time. Rauner requested it, and his request was granted.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:02 pm:

    - steve schnorf - is just that good.

    The Administration and the Four Tops would be well-served with Schnorf in the room when they all meet.

    As a witness.


  3. - Norseman - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:02 pm:

    Steve did nail it with these comments. I guess the only difference I would have is that Steve gives the gov the benefit of a doubt and I feel passed upon his past actions and pronouncements Rauner’s lost that benefit.

    Back to Steve’s


  4. - Boat captain - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:03 pm:

    Agree with what steve said. I don’t believe government can work things or change things overnight but some progress needs to be made. I respect his opinion and appreciate his comments. I am like you Rich, does not look good.


  5. - Norseman - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:04 pm:

    Oops, based upon …


  6. - Random thoughts - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:08 pm:

    I don’t see a way out either. Maybe, as a few commenters have suggested, a lump sum? It could force a solution similar to the compromise that settled the FY15 funding gap earlier this year. As Rauner enacts cuts with the lump sum, legislators can come forward with bills to fund the programs that at in jeopardy…as was done with the road fund sweep a few months ago.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know the hole for FY 16 is three times deeper. It won’t be filled with a couple of fund sweeps. But a sweep here, a closed tax loophole there, a tax on a service or two there…? A lump sum is an extremely flawed solution, but it’s better than what we got now.


  7. - ryan - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:09 pm:

    Perhaps it’s just me, but Steve seems to be one of the most pragmatic people I’ve seen suggest solutions. I wish he was a BVR superstar. No snark.


  8. - Logic not emotion - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:12 pm:

    Steve knows his stuff and articulates it well.

    I’m hearing at least labor day for a budget. Lots of programs will be closed and damage done by then.

    Each side seems content to cut the baby in half and let the blood spill rather than sincerely work on a compromise that might be best for Illinois. Doesn’t speak well for any of them - whether they are doing it with the greatest of intentions or not.


  9. - Georg Sande - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:15 pm:

    Right.

    Schnorf’s definition of “moderate” is apparently the same as Madigan’s.


  10. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:16 pm:

    Sande, only somebody on the fringe would say that about Schnorf.

    The center ain’t where you’re at.


  11. - Skeptic - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:18 pm:

    Georg Sande: Given that Steve Schnorf is a Republican, that should tell you something.


  12. - Politix - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:18 pm:

    This governor would be much further along in reaching his goals but for his stunning lack of emotional intelligence. Smart people can talk all they want but deals are built not only on good ideas, but also on sincerity and trust. You can’t just do and say whatever you want and expect to influence people. You can’t allow toxic people like Goldman, Sandack, or even Ives with her garbage AFSCME tweets yesterday, to be your mouthpiece and expect your agenda to move forward. It’s really not that complicated.


  13. - Southside Markie - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:18 pm:

    Steve did indeed nail it. Not to take anything away from him, but I think the majority of the voters of the State of Illinois reached the same conclusion as Steve last November.


  14. - Mason born - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:19 pm:

    Well done Mr. Schnorf.

    I think part of what would help is if both sides stop looking at their oposites as their predefined carrictures. If they would assume their oponent Is actually doing what he believe to be the right thing would let the debate move from your just an evil 1%/carrear politician to finding the thin spots where they could agree.

    It seems they’d rather scream past each other for a few more weeks at least.


  15. - Anon2U - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:19 pm:

    I would love to go have a dinner or a beer with Steve.
    First question:
    Is the Governor just stringing AFSCME out until after Rahm presents his budget in Sept. And does he veto the Chicago public Safety fix to put even more pressure on Rham and thus creating a massive Dem problem in September?

    Rich, how about a “submit your questions to the guru” post? Steve, RNUG and on the snark side Oswego Willie, etc…


  16. - dupage dan - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:23 pm:

    Well, I’m glad someone said that time, and the glacial legislative process may take too long and, in retrospect, doesn’t seem to have been happening despite painful evidence of the need for significant change. And, it’s good to see OW seeing that math isn’t the be all for everything that Illinois and Rauner is facing.


  17. - OldIllini - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:24 pm:

    I agree that the ‘gradual moderate approach’ won’t cut it and ‘drastic solutions’ are needed. It’s now a question of who’s going to blink first.


  18. - Willie Stark - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:24 pm:

    I know Steve a bit, think very highly of his past service to the state, smarts and wisdom. That said, this analysis is just too credulous as to what is clearly motivating Rauner and the handful of other billionaires that fund his campaign efforts. The idea that billionaire hedgie and Bruce Backer Dan Arnold of Houston “loves Illinois” just like Bruce does (and acknowledging it “sounds trite” doesn’t mean it’s not, governor) is preposterous. It utterly ignores what has happened to the GOP nationally and in the states. See Wisconsin’s anti-unionism, for one. The know-nothingness on climate change for another. The visceral hatred of the Affordable Care Act and inability to propose a credible alternative to ensure people in the world’s wealthiest nation have regular access to health care - or any alternative at all, for a third.

    Steve is like Oswego Willy, a man without a party that they recognize or that wants them anymore. The Dems aren’t perfect, far from it, but face the facts about what it says that an imbecile like Donald Trump could ever, even for a moment, be the top choice of GOP primary voters.

    Rauner is a radical, not a sincere pragmatist forced to make tough decisions due to forces outside of his control. Please. The expiration of the tax increase rates that he urged is a BIG part of the reason for the “crisis” that he has helped foment.


  19. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:24 pm:

    ===I would love to go have a dinner or a beer with Steve===

    You have no idea.

    lol


  20. - Macbeth - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:25 pm:

    Schnorf is right. But Rauner is not the person to deliver the goods. Rauner’s here because Quinn isn’t. It’s more about Quinn than Rauner — and while I’m 100% on board with “making changes in order to fix things quickly” — the way to do it ain’t with eliminating collective bargaining and prevailing wage.

    There’s nothing — nothing, zero — right about that approach. Rauner doesn’t understand it. We need someone who does.


  21. - Norseman - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:27 pm:

    Yes, the Gov wants to change things quickly. I and a great majority of folks commenting on this blog would like to see positive change to be done quickly. I’m sure the Dems would want to change things quickly. The problem is that there is no agreement on the nature of those fixes. Neither side can impose their ideas on fixes so strategies must change. Rauner either needs to accept incremental changes or to follow through on his tough talk on balancing the budget without tax increases. Why Rauner has to make the change and not the Dems? It goes to Willy’s point that the Gov is the chief executive and owns the budget and budget problems.


  22. - The Captain - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:27 pm:

    I’m tired of watching people bend over backwards to apply decent motives to the Governor’s ineffective and zealous behavior. The simple explanation is often the correct one. This Governor thinks that people who work for a living have it too good and he’s set out to fix that. It’s a simple explanation that covers the Governor’s statements and actions since he took office and it doesn’t require that you contort yourself or divine unspoken altruistic motives. The honeymoon, and the benefit of the doubt are over.


  23. - Centennial - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:28 pm:

    He articulated what I’ve been thinking better than I ever could have. I will add one thing. I don’t think the Governor’s intentions are as sincere as Steve. I don’t think a more “business friendly” Illinois is the real end game. But I’ve also become quite the cynic in the last 6 months, so that with a grain of salt I suppose.


  24. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:28 pm:

    Steve Schnorf takes what I suspect many of us think and puts it better than most. A bullseye imho.

    Rauner and Madigan’s personal tendencies also compound the problem to a certain degree, imho. Rauner’s urgency contrasts with Madigan’s gradual, deliberate nature.


  25. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:29 pm:

    ===And, it’s good to see OW seeing that math isn’t the be all for everything that Illinois and Rauner is facing.===

    The “math” part is making the point… that it’s not… the end all/be all… It’s to make the point… to be pragmatic.


  26. - Wordslinger - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:33 pm:

    A reasonable read on what the governor may be thinking.

    But through actions of his own and some out of his control his negotiating position is severely undermined as FY16 is about 80% in the clear.

    He only has “levereage” for his non-budget agenda if you believe he is willing to slash $5 billion out of $7 billion in anticipated spending for social services, higher ed and group insurance.

    Based on previous actions, I don’t believe he can take that heat for long and he will have to settle on the budget remainder, including a tax hike.

    I read his letter to the GA as an appeal today to help him achieve some victory before that happens.

    But I think he will have to settle on the budget whether he gets any of his other stuff or not. You can’t start selling your agenda to the people in the midst of closings and layoffs. That had to be done long ago.


  27. - Wensicia - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:34 pm:

    Rauner may have good intentions, but his obsession with eliminating the unions and gaining political control in this state for the 1% seems more important. You can achieve change without forcing it through fiscal crises. The state is not a business, quit using corporate tactics to force your agenda.


  28. - burbanite - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:39 pm:

    People can’t handle quick extreme change, which is why when Quinn was pushing for a 4% increase in the income tax out of the gate I thought he was nuts. Seemed to me that he could get 1% a year later another percent…(accumulating some funds that first year) Problem is, when the Gov. asked the GA to let the increase lapse and they did, we started losing those funds and making the problem worse. This delay is delaying any accumulating benefit of an increase everyone knows is coming, which means the total jump will need to be more. They should not have let the increase expire and the Governor could have presented a balanced budget out of the gate with all the cuts he deemed necessary to get spending under control, while using any “surplus” to pay down pensions.


  29. - Enviro - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:40 pm:

    @4:25 pm “There’s nothing — nothing, zero — right about that approach. Rauner doesn’t understand it. We need someone who does.”

    That would have been Quinn who would not avoid owning an extension of the 5% state income tax, then cut medicaid costs, and work to pass the Tier 2 state worker pension bill in 2010.

    Missing Pat Quinn yet?


  30. - A guy - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:41 pm:

    I’ll salute Mr. Schnorf for this; he’s moderated this discussion and caused a few more brain cells to awaken.

    I do agree with his assessment. This governor (and many others) can’t look at the whole situation and think you can “nudge” things in a better direction. There are plenty of people with a button in front of them for whom this mess actually works for them personally.

    All the crazy “kool-aid” metaphors aside, think of this state as a patient on the table. Surely we’ve got more than a sprained ankle or a bad appendix? We need more serious treatment for a much more serious condition.

    Maybe we can see what on “our patient is functioning poorly, or shut down altogether”. What we can’t agree on is an aggressive treatment plan….even though every serious smart person knows that we need one.

    A recession is a warning that we need to fix our market.

    A depression is when we’ve failed to meet that challenge and the market cruelly fixes us.

    We’re somewhere in between.


  31. - Austin Blvd - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:45 pm:

    When you realize that, even with our highest tax rates that expired last Jan 1, that IL was about the middle of the pack on tax rates, there’s got to be some accountability for the people who have been yelling that the sky is falling.
    Our problem is higher debt, and it has drastically worsened since Jan. 1.
    Incremental workers comp changes would help, but isn’t it nice to know that some reforms passed a couple of years back are now costing employers less?


  32. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:45 pm:

    ==The expiration of the tax increase rates that he urged is a BIG part of the reason for the “crisis” that he has helped foment.==

    The tax hike that reduced just as Madigan, Cullerton and Quinn designed it to years ago when they made it law? The 3.75% tax rate that is still higher than the 3% rate being paid just a few years ago? That tax hike? smh

    ==climate change==Affordable Care Act==Donald Trump== lol

    In case anyone forgot ==we have a few hard left and right wingers posting on here==.


  33. - Centennial - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:48 pm:

    One last thing, the legislative process was designed by our founders to move slowly. That’s not an accident or necessarily a bad thing. Ripping the bandaid off and making huge changes with long last impacts is not how our democratic process was designed to work and for good reason. Just because BVR wants something changed doesn’t mean that it is “right” for Illinois businesses or the citizens for that matter. And that’s also my issue with self funders - they have no one to answer to. That’s dangerous to me. If you don’t have to shake hands and raise money $100 at a time you have the luxury of being able to exist in a vacuum. That’s why a legislative PROCESS is critical. He’s the Governor of Illinois - not the CEO.


  34. - Norseman - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:48 pm:

    === Maybe we can see what on “our patient is functioning poorly, or shut down altogether”. What we can’t agree on is an aggressive treatment plan….even though every serious smart person knows that we need one. ===

    A Guy, this analogy painfully hits home. What you do is get a second opinion from another expert and then go with the treatment recommended by the expert you trust.

    I’m sure you can figure out which expert I don’t trust to fix the patient named, Illinois, the State of.


  35. - Wordslinger - Friday, Jul 31, 15 @ 4:51 pm:

    “Recession” and “depression” have actual definitions in economics. The words arent just meaningless political blather.

    The state is not in,or in-between, either.

    Furthemore, Rauner might actually believe that snake oil, but it’s still snake oil designed to cure you of a higher standard of living.


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