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The cowardly lions of Illinois

Monday, Jun 19, 2017

* My Crain’s Chicago Business column

Illinois has waited almost two and a half years for Gov. Bruce Rauner to propose a “real” budget. He didn’t do it in 2015 (although he claims he did). He didn’t do it in 2016. And he didn’t do it again in 2017, preferring all the while to let somebody else tell the truth that everybody in Springfield knows: Solving this crisis is going to create real pain by way of higher taxes and/or deep spending cuts.

Finally, after nine credit downgrades that have put state government just one notch above junk bond status and hurled five public universities into actual junk bond status, after scores of social services providers have closed or drastically reduced vital services to the most vulnerable among us, after doing real and lasting harm to small businesses that deal with the state, after doing perhaps irreparable damage to the state’s already horrid reputation and after Senate Democrats took matters into their own hands and passed a budget with the cuts and the revenues to mostly balance it, the governor got behind a budget plan on June 14—a mere 884 days after he was inaugurated.

Hooray! Give him a cookie.

The exclamation point was added by my editors, by the way.

* Back to the column

Rauner didn’t announce the new budget plan himself, of course. That would be too politically risky. Instead, he dispatched some Republican legislators to lay out the new plan and take questions from reporters. The next day, Rauner appeared in a video supporting the proposal with no pesky reporters around to ask questions.

It’s not like Rauner has been alone in his cowardice. House Speaker Michael Madigan refused to prevent the 2011 income tax hike from automatically reducing itself from 5 percent to 3.75 percent at the end of 2014, and the Democrat has refused to pass a balanced budget with new revenues ever since. Madigan didn’t want to place his more politically vulnerable members at risk, and he wanted Rauner to wear the tax-hike jacket instead.

Go read the rest before commenting, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

21 Comments
  1. - RNUG - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 9:35 am:

    That is the situation in a nutshell.


  2. - Nearly Normal - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 9:38 am:

    Well said Rich!


  3. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 9:40 am:

    Yep, cowardice all around. I’d add one more: the Democrats are too cowardly to push progressive taxation. Think about it: one way to avoid or minimize wearing the collar for tax increases is to play the tax fairness card. Bill Clinton based much of his 1992 campaign on this principle. But Illinois doesn’t have a traditional Dem party, at least not at the state level.


  4. - Anon414 - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 9:41 am:

    At least the Senate Dems (and Radogno until Rauner took out her legs,) have displayed some responsibility and guts.


  5. - Anonymous - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 9:43 am:

    Bing, bam, boom. What more do you need to know?


  6. - Ducky LaMoore - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 9:57 am:

    I love the comments on Crain’s website. I didn’t realize people who could barely think would go to a professional business news source! Great column, Rich, “you old drunken, biased bum with a pro-union website.”


  7. - @MisterJayEm - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 9:59 am:

    House Speaker Michael Madigan refused to prevent the 2011 income tax hike from automatically reducing itself from 5 percent to 3.75 percent at the end of 2014

    “What more do you need to know?”

    That governor-elect Bruce Rauner urged the General Assembly to allow the 2011 temporary tax rates increase to sunset as scheduled, and that Rauner also pledged to veto an extension if passed by the legislature.

    – MrJM


  8. - HL Mencken - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 10:00 am:

    You should not leave out the third branch of government in your cowardly citations. Had the judicial branch stepped up on day one and simply announced that no one gets paid without a budget there would have been a far greater likelihood that we never would have travelled this far.


  9. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 10:01 am:

    ===Rauner also pledged to veto an extension===

    Yeah, but Quinn pledged to sign it.


  10. - cdog - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 10:08 am:

    I was glad to see this over the weekend. They are both cowards, and that’s one of the nicer character traits one could label them with.

    Both sides are unworthy of the offices they hold. Keep up the pressure and keep educating the public.


  11. - Annonin' - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 10:10 am:

    Capt Fax’s refusal to look critically at DopeyDuct alone is totally inxplcable. Tryin’ to link Madigna to every Dopey display of incompetence is only harms his credibility. DopeyDuct sez he supports the Durkie “compromise” and then unleashes the stooge & goon squads with paid mailers, tv, radio station rants again anyone support tax increase.
    Action on the temporary tax was opposed by Dopey.
    This linkage doesn’t work


  12. - Free Set of Steak Knives - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 10:35 am:

    === he wanted Rauner to wear the tax-hike jacket instead. ===

    I’d say he didn’t want Democrats to be the only ones blamed for the tax increase. I don’t think Democrats mind sharing the blame.


  13. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 10:40 am:

    ===Capt Fax’s refusal to look critically at DopeyDuct alone is totally inxplcable===

    Your logic is as sound as your typing skills.


  14. - The Lowly LA - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 10:54 am:

    Aye, Captain; he’s got ye there…


  15. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    HL Mencken is on to something, but not the court’s ruling on legislator pay.

    Where is Lisa Madigan? Or somebody to sue the governor to present a balanced budget? After all constant bleating here about how it’s Rauner’s “constitutional duty” to go first, where was the willingness to test that in court? Maybe the people making it were more interested in something else?

    Rich is 100% right: at this point this is primarily about avoiding “the collar.” Rauner has shown he doesn’t value the political reforms much, and they’re all on board with balancing the budget primarily on the backs of the middle class. All that remains of this worst-of-both-worlds compromise is some tweaking on the edges.


  16. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 11:02 am:

    PS - I’m not going to blame Madigan or the Dems for not making the hike permanent before Rauner. Regardless of their motives or how gutsy it might have been, it would have been terribly undemocratic. We just had an election whose biggest issue was that very tax increase (remember the “it’s gonna happen, probably in November” ads?) and Rauner won it. And that was the only non-gerrmandered outlet for the voters.


  17. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 11:26 am:

    The best governing way Rauner had, and arguably continues to have, is to allow Radogno and Durkin to assist in the governing to give cover where needed, and work out compromises where Rauner’s love of a passive tone works in his continued battle to campaign against himself.

    Durkin IS the most powerful legislator in both chambers. “Period”. Durkin could work, autonomously, to get Rauner significant wins and limit damage to all Republicans, including Rauner himself.

    Two things are critical, for me, in the spot-on embracing of what Rich wrote;

    Rauner blowing up both Senate Grand Bargains.

    Durkin rolling out Rauner’s budget compromise WITHOUT the Raunerite tax bill, sponsored and guaranteed support by Rauner and the Raunerites.

    “Why is this important?”

    It’s about the cowardly way to se engaged, without blame, and without the fortitude to see a budget thru.

    Durkin could, indeed, take over where the blowing up of the Senate Deal ended.

    But, only an honest actor would include the Rauner Tax bill to pay for the compromise, and it works have HGOP sponsors.

    “Why won’t it?”

    Cowards.

    Madigan not running the SenDems budget, right or wrong, is the other side of the Raunerite coin. The only difference is Durkin and Radogno isn’t facing $50 million aimed at slamming them for compromise. Durkin and Radogno are more worried about IPI and Proft, but I digress….

    All sides need to see Durkin holds the key to compromise.

    Ads will not get any compromise done.


  18. - walker - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 1:40 pm:

    “Who’s going to wear the collar” for the obviously required tax increases and expense cuts, has been the budget issue from day one.

    The 800-day impasse is on the Turnaround Agenda; the budget was secondary until now.


  19. - Boone's is back - Monday, Jun 19, 17 @ 3:54 pm:

    Great piece Rich


  20. - ejhickey - Tuesday, Jun 20, 17 @ 12:36 am:

    At this point , no one is going to ‘wear the collar” just for a tax increase that everybody knows is coming. the side that wears the collar is the side that doesn’t raise taxes enough to fix our finances and reverse our the slide in our credit rating. think about having to come back a year from now and having to debate raising taxes again.


  21. - ktown - Tuesday, Jun 20, 17 @ 5:37 am:

    When we say the Democrats don’t want to endanger their majority, I think of what it would be like if the Republicans had the majority instead. What effects would that have on Chicago, especially schools and health care? Illinois is a tough place to live for minorities as it is. Would it become tougher?


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