* 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.