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Far more heat than light

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Apparently, this situation calls for a futile gesture on somebody’s part. In this case, a front-page editorial

A year ago we declared “Enough.” The day after, the governor and lawmakers passed a six-month stopgap spending plan that did not provide lasting stability. That’s not good enough.

It’s time to demand that Governor Rauner and our lawmakers do what is right. It’s time for the budget to come first. To not do so will cement their legacy with one word that encapsulates the sorry condition of our state.


* Except here’s how the SJ-R described the Senate’s fairly reasonable balanced budget proposal

Every sign of progress has been marred by partisan politics. A budget was approved Tuesday by the Senate — with no Republican support. Even if the House concurs, Rauner likely will veto a measure only supported by Democrats. A bipartisan compromise is needed for Illinois to persevere.

A bipartisan compromise is required, but sometimes you gotta force the issue. So instead of saying the Senate’s bills should be put on Rauner’s desk and he should sign them, or at the very least the Senate’s proposal should be used as a template for a final deal, they punted.

* From the Sun-Times editorial

That Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois House and Senate would allow Illinois to stumble through yet a third year without a budget, as bills and debt pile up and businesses and residents leave, is beyond irresponsible.

And spare us the lecture about the need for structural reform first. If Illinois keeps going like this, there won’t be much to structure or reform.

* But

Meanwhile, Rauner and the Legislature — most specifically House Speaker Mike Madigan — have shown zero political courage. At least Senate President John Cullerton has stuck his neck out, pushing a spending plan through the Senate on Tuesday, without a single Republican vote, that includes tax increases and spending cuts.

Rauner is running political ads, the goofy ones with the duct tape, laying the groundwork for his re-election next year. But he is not governing. As we said in a previous editorial, the first and most basic job of a CEO — and a governor is a CEO — is to produce a budget. The buck stops there.

And Madigan? Mike is being Mike, as inscrutable as ever. Nobody’s can be sure if he has any interest in passing a state budget at this point, or if he’s biding time until he can run Rauner out of Springfield.

And yet no endorsement of the Senate’s plan.

The budget can’t be balanced without actual legislation. The Senate Democrats are the only people in the Statehouse who have passed just such a package of bills. If you really want to drive the argument, then endorse a specific proposal. Maybe even back the plan devised by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. Or the Illinois Policy Institute’s plan. Or Sen. McCarter’s plan. Something. Anything. Just pick a freaking lane, already.

Encouraging people to angrily vent over the phone without any direction is irresponsible and plays right into the hands of both Rauner and Madigan.


  1. - Dan Johnson - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 12:11 pm:

    Reminds me of pension reform. The people who actually vote for responsible governance do not get the civic credit they deserve.

  2. - Norseman - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    Excellent Rich!

  3. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 12:37 pm:

    ===Encouraging people to angrily vent over the phone without any direction is irresponsible and plays right into the hands of both Rauner and Madigan===

    This is the Ball Game, and where this all fails.

    I do wish Editorial Boards, no matter the “side” they see themselves sympathetic to would say…

    ===If you really want to drive the argument, then endorse a specific proposal. Maybe even back the plan devised by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. Or the Illinois Policy Institute’s plan. Or Sen. McCarter’s plan. Something. Anything. Just pick a freaking lane, already.===

    I may be wrong, but a functioning editorial board that wanted a solution would have come to this spot on conclusion, a conclusion Rich has been trying to drive for… ever… or at least since we all realized that budgets are rare these days.

    The phone number “have your say” silliness is lazy to the charge of being an editorial board that wants that charge to be… get the state a budget.

    Not a good look for the newspaper.

  4. - Been There - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 12:43 pm:

    Well at least they didn’t demand they get locked into the room until they come to terms.

  5. - PJ - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    So true.

    I get that they want to project general frustration. No one is innocent. But general frustration doesn’t solve crap. Encourage people to actually get behind something. Complaining to your legislators about the budget crisis is worthless. They understand it’s a problem.

    If you have a solution to endorse (and not a stupid one like “just cut everything”) it’s much more powerful.

  6. - AC - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 12:50 pm:

    What are they asking us to do, yell out the window? “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Without a solution, it really does become like an editorial written by Howard Beale.

  7. - MissingG - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    A governor is not a “CEO”. The State government is not a business.

    Please stop.

  8. - Ginhouse Tommy - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 12:56 pm:

    Where have all these people been. What’s this enough is enough stuff. Anybody with a brain who’s been watching can see that Rauner has made no move to govern at all. He just sits on the sideline and coaches. He doesn’t want a budget and doesn’t care about who suffers. Any kind of a budget without his spartan proposals will be vetoed even if it makes it that far. From what I read in the blog MJM will kill any budget too. Probably wants to use it in the election. And yes OW “have your say” is a waste unless he can use those recordings in campaign adds. BTW this campaign might not only be the costliest but possibly the most vicious in state history. That’s the tone so far and it hasn’t even begun.

  9. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 12:56 pm:

    For at least the last 8 years, if not 20 or 12, the national parties have been pushing anger and, when in power, trying to govern from the extremes. Half win, half lose … and the politicians just swing government from one extreme to the other. Nobody is a moderate anymore; nobody can compromise.

    And this has infected state level politics, especially the last two years. Look around the nation; the functioning states, both good and bad depending on your perspective, ate pretty much one party states.

    Cullerton has put a framework together, and put the votes on it. Which is more than the other leaders
    or the Governor has done.

    From where I sit, Rauner isn’t going to compromise. Madigan can compromise as long as you don’t ask him to surrender his cores beliefs … which is what Rauner is insisting on. So we have a stalemate, which politically, for Rauner, is as good as a win.

    There are only two ways out of this: either the IGOP adds enough votes to make the bills veto proof, or Illinois replaces the Governor.

  10. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:01 pm:

    So a true compromise in a divided government is Rauner surrendering his core beliefs that enjoy bipartisan support (property tax freeze, term limits, redistricting etc) and Speaker Madigan surrendering nothing.

  11. - WhoKnew - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:06 pm:

    “or Illinois replaces the Governor.”

    How could you think such a thing, after he spent all that money to buy the place!//s

  12. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:07 pm:

    The discussion is the State budget.

    Property taxes have nothing to do with the state budget.

  13. - AC - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:08 pm:

    ==Rauner surrendering his core beliefs that enjoy bipartisan support (property tax freeze, term limits, redistricting etc) and Speaker Madigan surrendering nothing==

    In exchange for revenue that Rauner’s own budget requires?

  14. - Demoralized - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:15 pm:


    Where in the world you got that sentiment from as far as this particular post goes is beyond me. You’re always the victim. Always the child.

  15. - Harry - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:15 pm:

    Yes–the SJ-R’s position is incoherent. It’s May 24, what do they want to do?

  16. - Arock - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:19 pm:

    Demoralized- it is what the whole post is about. I guess the truth hurts.

  17. - Lester Holt's Mustache - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:31 pm:

    Stories like this shouldn’t disappoint us, by now they should be expected. The corrupt, bought-and-paid for Illinois media establishment still refuses the lay any of the blame for this budget mess on the Governor, instead still insisting on pounding the table with clueless “pox-on-both-houses” nonsense. Outside of Brown at S-T and Hupke at the Trib, these guys continue to promote whatever line their Rauner-friendly CEO’s tell them to.

    Just as is the case in the “Unkind headlines” post earlier today, it doesn’t matter what actually happens in Springfield. Illinois newspapers and tv stations have their own agenda, and honest criticisms of the Governor’s actions over the last three years isn’t ever going to be a part of it. Rich is one of the very few honest broker left in this state.

  18. - Norseman - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:32 pm:

    RNUG @ 12:56, well said!

  19. - PJ - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:34 pm:

    Tangentially related to LP’s comment:

    Governing by the polls is a really bad idea. There’s an excellent reason we have a representative democracy instead of a direct democracy. If you put “eliminate all state taxes” on a ballot, it would pass, because a majority of people simply don’t make the connections between the taxes they pay and the services they demand (police, schools, roads, firefighters, etc).

    Point being, a position being politically popular doesn’t make it a good thing.

  20. - Pangloss - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    The voters of this state have never punished anyone for inaction to prevent disaster, they’ve only punished politicians for taking action to prevent disaster. So Rauner faces no penalty. It’s been the same at the federal level– no good deed goes unpunished, and the most sharp-tongued critics win the votes despite their ignorance of the issues.

  21. - Annonin' - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    it is worth notin’ that:
    1. There is no fat Mike William Heatin’ sticker over the meat of “Enough”
    2. They don’t really sign on to the DopeyDuct idea that requires approval of ideas that don’t kick in to 2020s
    3. State House clerks gettin’ lots of practice transferrin’ calls to the Angie Muhs braintrust

  22. - Mama - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 1:47 pm:

    “If you have a solution to endorse (and not a stupid one like “just cut everything”) it’s much more powerful. ”

    You are right, that that is not the game Rauner wants played.

  23. - Fairycat - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 2:09 pm:

    Noted: neither email for Rauner or Madigan works, to send in the suggested “postcard” response recommended in the editorial.
    “Your message couldn’t be delivered to because the remote server is misconfigured.
    550 Mailbox unavailable or access denied -”
    “Your message wasn’t delivered to because the domain couldn’t be found.”

    It’s almost as if those two don’t want to hear from voters.

  24. - RD55 - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 2:25 pm:

    LP if Rauner’s non-budget “core beliefs” enjoy such bipartisan support 30 & 60 should be easy to get. No need to hold the budget hostage to get them passed.

  25. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 2:55 pm:

    Today’s editorials show the consequences of newspapers cutting back on their Capitol bureaus. You’re left with people not really knowing what’s going on but wanting something done.

  26. - Way Way Down Here - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 3:33 pm:

    To expand on what MF@2:55 posted: That works on the local level too.

  27. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 24, 17 @ 4:35 pm:

    It doesn’t occur to some editorial writers that tuning up the 10% of state spending not covered by court order is the plan?

    Why is that? That’s what’s actually happening. Do they think Rauner is a loony or something?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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