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More ideas worth thinking about

Monday, Apr 25, 2016

* Democratic state Sen. Daniel Biss has outlined three broad goals to kick off his new effort to help formulate a progressive response to Raunerism

Tackle the outliers first. People can quibble about all sorts of things, but there’s no question that when it comes to a few measures ­­ — credit rating, for instance ­­ — Illinois is an extreme state, and not in a good way. That means that we should try to solve the extreme problems first. Does it bother you that Illinois is only 35th best in some way? Fine. But let’s work on that after we’ve tackled the ways that Illinois is one of five or fewer states that need to change a practice.

Go after the structural causes of corruption. The transactional nature of Illinois politics has harmed us in many ways, not least in helping us avoid long­-term thinking and therefore adding to our debt load. We need to take this culture on by understanding what enables it and fighting accordingly, starting with money in politics, lobbying practices, and the proliferation of unscrutinized silos all across government.

Take advantage of our assets and retool for a high-skill, high-wage modern economy. This might be the most controversial of the principles, but it is also the most important. We can no longer afford to ignore the changes that have swept the Midwest. We have to acknowledge them in our policies, and we need to chart a bold new economic course. Governor Rauner wants that course to be a race to the bottom, using lower compensation as an economic development tool. Instead, we should capitalize on our many strengths to become a high-wage leader in the new economy.

Go read the whole thing, but what do you think of these and would you add any further expansive goals?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Team Warwick - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 9:58 am:

    Here’s an example where they present a fact, but not the analysis, leading to incorrect conclusions. The data on numver of people farming (note its not acres). In the 1920’s people were farming with horse draw implements. It took acertain number of people and animals to farm an acre. So farms were smaller in total acres per ownership. So now we have fuel driven tractors and one-pass, no till equipment. One guy can do alot of acres now. Just pointing out that the number of laborers it takes to farm an acre in the 1920’s compared to 2016 is misleading data and no anyalsis. Is the whole thing like that? I quit reading after the farm spin data.

  2. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:06 am:

    –Just pointing out that the number of laborers it takes to farm an acre in the 1920’s compared to 2016 is misleading data and no anyalsis.–

    What in the world are you talking about? It takes much less labor to farm than it did in 1920, leading to a decline in the percentage of laborers engaged in farming.

    That’s the point, in its entirety. What don’t you get?

  3. - Honeybear - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:08 am:

    I really really liked the article. I had to skim it but I can’t wait to fully digest it later over lunch. Here’s what I would add. We have to have MORE transparency and accountability personnel. The GA can require, I think, that there be actual people in positions to monitor and report on transparency and accountability. Are there folks at DCEO checking to see if we got the jobs promised for those hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives? Not that I know of. Nobody to my knowledge is checking. No reports have come out about getting what we bargained for. This is intentional by all administrations. You don’t what people knowing where the bodies are buried. I would mandate this level of accountability and insist on regular clear reporting. MORE accountability and more transparency. That’s why the ILBEDC must be shut down. It’s a ploy to rob the state blind with it’s non-FOIA structure.

  4. - Northsider - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:12 am:

    “Is the whole thing like that? I quit reading after the farm spin data.”

    Which tells me how much weight to give you and your comment. Do you realize just how much that statement reveals?

  5. - Ghost - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:13 am:

    just seems like more talk.

    lets see a bill w actual solutions. everyone is fiddling while the state burns. the dems need tonpass bills. if rauner vetoes them he vetoes them. enough do nothing and talking. Pass rauners proposed budget w the 7 billion hole and no tax increase. if he vetoes it theu can point out its his budget. if he doesnt then he is on the hook for the shady math and the hole

  6. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:16 am:

    This manifesto is the blueprint for a man angling for 2018, and putting out now, in the middle of 2016 his own outline to, come 12 months from now, Biss can rollout his statewide bid for anything from Governor to an open slate position against a sitting Republican (Munger?)

    They are not random thoughts, they are “calculated” statements with “statistical” backing of political positions.

    It’s smart, dropping this manifesto now, allowing it to breathe and evolve and allow those looking for Biss, or others, to emerge with more than a smile and a push poll.

    To the “drop”,

    Meh, it is what it is. Nothing evolutionary or revolutionary. It’s serving a purpose and it will (could) serve it well timing it as he did.

  7. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:19 am:

    So, I guess Biss is running for governor.

    His analysis on the global economic factors in play was spot-on, and his ideas of influencing the manufacturing sector make a lot more sense than the pie-in-sky promises of the governor’s opaque agenda.

    On the challenges facing rural Illinois, this fact should really pop:

    –For instance, between 1945 and 1981 alone, the farm population fell from 17.5% to 2.6%.–

    Corn and beans rule in Illinois because the federales have rigged the game for them. The incentives through crop insurance and subsidies favor large-scale, capital-heavy production.

    What’s coming down the line that would encourage risk for small-scale, labor-intensive production?

    It’s weed. And it’s coming, whether you like it or not.

    Rather than the state creating a clouted-up, med-mar monopoly, the state should approach weed like the craft-beer industry, letting small entrepreneurs get in the ball game and compete.

    But better get on it. Because it’s coming a lot faster than you think.

  8. - Lomez - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:22 am:

    “Simply put, there’s a race to the bottom happening, and we’re losing it.”

    We are losing the race to the bottom! This is great news.

  9. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:22 am:

    Great to see a Democrat finally address the need for economic development and not pretend everything is fine in Illinois.

    I don’t see what his solutions are but at least he realizes Illinois needs to be turned around and doing the same thing over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

  10. - justacitizen - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:23 am:

    Good analysis, skimmed parts like Honeybear, but it seems like some of points endorse ‘turnaround agenda’. Corruption can be tied to redistricting and term limits. The Rauner folks would argue that the economy would improve if taxes and workers comp rates were lower. Same arguments for wages and workforce.

  11. - RNUG - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:23 am:

    Read the whole thing. Still digesting if but my initial reaction is he is on the right track. The biggest problem is the unstated cost of his (implied) solutions; higher State support for education and targeted tax breaks will require a lot of money. That money will have to come from expanded and new revenue sources. He didn’t come out and say it but I think he is, between the lines, suggesting a graduated income tax as one of the revenue sources.

    Too bad he wasn’t on the ballot for Governor the last time; he sounds like the type of Democrat I could support.

  12. - Jack Stephens - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:26 am:

    I’m assuming by reducing corruption its a 2 way street.

    Prevent folks like a certain Illinois Guv who’s made his million from feeding at the guv’mint trough, and now using those connections to advance an agenda he never mentioned nor is anyone interested in.

    And for the same thing to happen with anyone else.

  13. - Toffee - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:27 am:

    He is trying to articulate a framework that doesn’t accept the indefensible status quo while rejecting Raunerism as the answer. It’s clearly positioning for 2018 but Biss is sincere about this, IMHO.

  14. - Chicago PR Guy - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:29 am:

    Oswego Willy nailed it

  15. - Almost the Weekend - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:31 am:

    I like Senator Biss, I think he would have made an excellent comptroller. It’s actually a genius idea that he is trying to portray himself as the face of the anti-Rauner agenda.

    But I see this article as Chicago v. Downstate. And offering nothing to Downstate. This also does nothing to address the plight of people leaving the state. The first Daley saw the writing on the wall and did a great job of transitioning Chicago from a blue collar town to a white collar business town. However there were many casualties along the way, the city is segregated more than ever, and the net gain of Chicago’s population is essentially zero. With younger people living there in their early 20s, by the time they start a family they leave for the suburbs and in the end up losing revenue to pay for pensions, infrastructure, etc.

    The best way to transition to a 21st century economy is with world class college institutes. However even before Rauner, college funding was decreasing and students were looking elsewhere because of high costs. For example, Eastern Illinois is being eaten alive because schools like Evansville and Indiana State offer in state tuition to Illinois students. Because Eastern doesn’t offer this to Indiana students, Illinois is missing out on attracting younger talent to the state. The same problems can be seen at Northern and Western.
    In regards to manufacturing I agree, free trade and race to the bottom has devastated Illinois and many cities across the state are trying to recover. Decatur, Quad Cities, Metro East have all made improvements but still don’t know what direction to go. I agree there is no easy answer, but in the 21st century economy I think large Downstate metro areas need to start specializing and working with community colleges/universities to educate and train their local workforce. Champaign and Bloomington have both done this to a certain extent, Bloomington (nursing and insurance) Champaign (tech start-ups, ag, and Research Park). Rockford has done this with aerospace engineering. And SIU Carbondale created a craft brewing major and partnered with local wineries and breweries Downstate. The fact is educational institutions, local governments, and economic engines of the state need to work together. Illinois will never be a tax haven like Delaware, but if the state attracts young job ready people to this great state, then companies will be willing to bite bullet and locate here.

    Props again to Biss for bringing this up and putting forth ideas to improve the state. Dems can’t be the party of no, will end up like the GOP with Trump in 2022 as an Illinois gubernatorial nominee.

  16. - allknowingmasterofracoondom - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:35 am:

    The first two goals sound eerily like Rauner’s goals. But they must be a good idea if someone else thought of ‘em.

  17. - Lomez - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:41 am:

    “Go after the structural causes of corruption.”

    Eagerly awaiting specifics here. Patronage hiring? (lol)

  18. - Northsider - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 10:47 am:

    wordslinger @ 10:19: Very good point about marijuana. It’s long past time to legalize and tax the *@&# out of it. Talk about a sustainable revenue stream…

  19. - Earnest - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:17 am:

    >What’s coming down the line that would encourage risk for small-scale, labor-intensive production?

    Agriculture was my first thought as well, though marijuana didn’t occur to me. I’d like us to keep a focus on agriculture, but more along the lines of non-industrial farming. There are some farms doing Community Supported Agriculture and people growing some heirloom products instead of mass-produced, patented seeds. I’d like to see Illinois as a clear leader in this type of farming, which, by its nature, is more labor-intensive, which would be good for rural areas.

  20. - Clem - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:20 am:

    Biss lays out the problems — and the history behind them — really well. (The “explainer” video is excellent.)

    But diagnosing the disease is the easy part, figuring out a politically doable cure is what’s tough.

    Biss is one of the “adults in the room.” So if this is a wonkish, new media way of him sticking a toe in the gubernatorial waters, that’s a good thing.

  21. - Liberty - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:20 am:

    Sticking to Rich’s question… We need to dump expand math education at the practical level with more career education at universities who are dominated by political activism in the liberal arts.

  22. - 4 percent - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:32 am:

    “That means that we should try to solve the extreme problems first.”

    I agree - Illinois’ work comp cost are the 7th highest in the nation. Pretty extreme. Let’s reduce costs Senator.

  23. - Hamlet's Ghost - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:35 am:

    @4 percent

    The most effective way to reduce worker comp premiums is to pay for medical treatment at normal health insurance rates rather than comp rates.

    In other words a knee replacement should cost the same whether the surgery was caused by jumping off a fire truck or jumping a mogul at Vail.

  24. - J. Nolan - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 11:36 am:

    Not to get into a regional war spat but I agree with a previous commentator. This seems like a reasonably well intentioned and well thought out framework for eventual concrete solutions but frankly it reads like a manifesto for Cook County and the surrounding collars. More broadly it reads like one for a mostly urban state like NJ or Connecticut. I think it totally ignores that 3/4 of this state is rural farmland, small sleepy Midwestern cities, and a few college towns. That Illinois is more economically and culturally akin to Indiana and Kentucky for better or worse. That was sort of the genius behind Rauners regional aproach to letting municipalities or counties go right to work. Something like ONE high powered large BMW plant for example could totally provide an ecomic jolt to a Decatur or Danville. And frankly plants like that are not buying what Biss is spinning. Go look at what Greenville, SC has been able to transform themselves into…

  25. - Triple fat - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:02 pm:

    Until the Federal Government outlaws the practice of large corporation extorting tax revenue from States and municipalities, racing to the bottom will continue… Why don’t we insist that large corporations operate in a free market economy?

  26. - blue dog dem - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:29 pm:

    Couple of things. Sounds to me like Biss is echoing old blue dogs thoughts that Obama’s endorsement of TPP and Clintons endorsrment of NAFTA were both devastating to the manufacturing world. But mostly his thoughts were merely political rhetoric to enhance his status as a career politico. Disgusting. Maybe when he’s finished with his politicing he can become a ‘distinguished fellow’ as some state university.

  27. - illini - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:32 pm:

    Wordslinger makes some excellent points -”–For instance, between 1945 and 1981 alone, the farm population fell from 17.5% to 2.6%.–

    Corn and beans rule in Illinois because the federales have rigged the game for them. The incentives through crop insurance and subsidies favor large-scale, capital-heavy production.

    What’s coming down the line that would encourage risk for small-scale, labor-intensive production?”

    My family has been farming in Southern Illinois for over 100 years. My 94 year old father remembers farming with horses and mules on the same land my youngest brother is now farming. Yet there are several families in my area that are farming well over 10,000 acres. The smaller farmers can not compete with them to acquire additional land or afford the equipment needed to produce and harvest the crops. True family farms are becoming a thing of the past.

    Maybe my brother should get into the med-mar industry!!!!!

  28. - Jack Stephens - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:38 pm:


    And as the farm population dropped, I’ll bet the expansion of prisons downstate expanded. They are good paying jobs. Secure, as long as we as a society to incarcerate that much of the population.

  29. - Federalist - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:39 pm:

    A nice undergraduate piece on real problems in Illinois.

    Where’s the beef? No substance.

  30. - Anon44 - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 12:48 pm:

    Not sure of the solution, but I feel like higher education needs a rethink. Tuition at Illinois public universities is growing faster than just about anywhere else, and enrollment at most campuses is declining (and that’s even before the current budget mess.)

  31. - cannon649 - Monday, Apr 25, 16 @ 9:19 pm:

    Well written but the massive debt and unfunded pension liability are major issues that are not addressed (effectively) and effect much of what is suggested.

    I do not agree with the race to bottom talk addressing the problem with other “solutions” than a progressive tax and pot has not worked.

    Change all the players.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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