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Question of the day

Friday, Sep 14, 2018

* Are you at all hopeful about Illinois’ future? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Me Again - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 1:50 pm:

    Yes, because Bruce Rauner’s days as governor will be drawing to a close.

  2. - DarkDante - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 1:52 pm:

    I am. The budget is a mess, but there are several available pools of untapped revenue that could help service both the real deficit and (perhaps even) some additional services. That being said, I think mandate relief for towns and municipalities is really the name of the game. Really hoping to see Pritzker show his political chops and get the ball rolling.

  3. - AlfondoGonz - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 1:53 pm:

    Yea. I know a lot of fine people here. That will always be more important than the idiots who run things.

  4. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 1:53 pm:

    No, because there doesn’t seem to be a critical mass of adults in Springfield who are willing to honestly and cooperatively deal with the severe fiscal problems we are facing. The days of “I want mine” have to end, and they have not.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 1:55 pm:


    The darkness of Raunerism could end, or will end in 4 years from now.

    The Brave 15, the Perfect 10, the 152-20 budget Rauner dare not veto… the 24% approval, Sam McCann, the conservatives, Labor, the coalition of anti-Raunerism knows… it’s not a “business decision” to defeat Raunerism, they are all trying to save Illinois.

    That’s why I’m hopeful. I see good things. I know we all learned a lesson, if the RaunerS did not.

    The sunlight will come out once Raunerism ends, so yeah, I’m hopeful.

  6. - Big Jer - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 1:55 pm:

    Yes. In the long term. Why? At some point in the future the coasts will be under water with sea level rise. The southern half of the country will be extremely hot and prone to extreme weather events. Where is everyone going to go? The middle of the country and the further north the better.

  7. - formerpro - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 1:55 pm:

    Yes, I am. Illinois is a very wealthy state with lots going for it. Rauner is toast. Our new Governor will have a chance to do the right thing and lead us to fiscal sanity. It will be tough medicine to swallow but J.B. doesn’t need to get re-elected to go down in history as a great Governor.

  8. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:02 pm:

    You betcha.

    Illinois needs someone with a vision for what we could be and the ability to sell it nationally and internationally. JB has that vision and that salesman’s abilities. He will lead the effort to restore our state to our former glory. The future, even with the enormous fiscal challenges, is bright.

  9. - Angel's Sword - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:02 pm:

    Moderately hopeful. I’m glad a progressive income tax is at least part of the discussion now when it comes to balancing the budget. I like a lot of what I’m hearing from Pritzker and it’s hard to imagine Pritzker not being our next Governor.

    However, it must be said that the budget situation is dire, and it seems like every time the state might be in a financially solid position we elect another corrupt or unhinged Governor who destroys us financially.

    For at least the next four years though I’m moderately hopeful. I expect there will be at least some progress in repairing the state’s fiscal situation.

  10. - ZC - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:04 pm:

    Cautiously optimistic. Illinois can’t control its biggest spending problems thanks to that stupid pension clause, but it can address some of its revenue issues. If Pritzker can actually put together the leadership and the coalition to finally amend the Constitution and get the progressive tax in, that alone would make his governorship worthwhile.

    Income is increasingly going to the tippy-top of the spectrum everywhere and if our tax code can’t recognize that, we can’t move forward as a state fiscally. Call it what you will but banks, where the money is, etc.

  11. - Reality Check - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:05 pm:

    Yes. With a new governor and a fair tax, I’m hoping for an end to the attacks on working people; investment in schools, health care and infrastructure; paying the state’s bills; and job and wage growth that follows on those things. It’s not going to be easy - problems created over time will take time to solve. But with Rauner in the rear view, hopefully progress is possible.

  12. - Louis G. Atsaves - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:07 pm:

    No. Taxing and spending our way to prosperity doesn’t seem to be a long term solution to our problems. Constitutional amendments that won’t kick in for a few years will not solve this problem for the Governor who sits through the next term.

    Interesting how the Rauner campaign is now using Rich Miller’s calculations as to how much additional revenues need to be raised through additional taxes.

    Keep kicking the can and hoping someone doesn’t fill it with concrete.

  13. - Keyrock - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:07 pm:

    Yes, because formerpro is right.
    (Also, I have confidential information that Madigan’s deal with Lucifer expires in just 12 more years.)

  14. - Flat Bed Ford - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:08 pm:


    Math will soon catch up to the decades of incompetent governance that has taken place in Springfield. If the nation sees an economic slowdown or dare say, a recession, Illinois will fare much worse than the rest of the nation. That slowdown/recession is all but assured in the next 5 years. Dark days ahead for Illinois indeed.

    Happy Friday.

  15. - 47th Ward - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:09 pm:

    Yes, I’m hopeful. Otherwise it’d be too hard to get out of bed.

    We are in a particularly ugly period in our political history. Hopefully we’ve hit bottom and can start to ascend to a place where we can still disagree but also work together to find solutions. At the end of the day, everybody wants the same things: a chance to prosper, to earn a living, to build a life and to live in good communities. Our governments, at all levels, should be helping to ease the path to these things, not to place impediments in the way.

    We have enormous problems in Illinois, from failing schools to generational poverty to the depopulation of our rural areas. But despite this, except for the few “raise taxes and I’ll move” crowd, I don’t sense that most Illinoisans have given up. There are still enough of us who want to stay and fight and get things done.

    I’ve seen them, I know them. They are my neighbors and the men and women on my CTA train every morning who get up and go to work each day. All they want is to be able to come home and enjoy what they’ve earned through their labor. These people are worth fighting for. We are all worth fighting for. That fight, and the fire it takes to wage it, gives me hope.

    As much as I disagree with some of my fellow commenters here, we all give a $#*& about this state. We all want to see it improve. I think we’re all prepared to put differences aside to do what it takes. That too gives me hope.

    But as bad as things appear, remember: throught human history there has never been a better time to be alive than right now and there has never been a better place to be alive than right here.

    Given that context, our problems seem small, sometimes as small as our politics.

  16. - Henry Francis - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:12 pm:

    Yes. Rauner will be gone. And I believe MJM’s power is waning as a result of the constant barrage he has faced the past 3 years, his stumbles in dealing with 21st century issues (metoo) and people won’t need to unite behind him to ward off a conmon enemy (the Guv). Additionally, JB’s Warbucks will make it easier for Dems to escape from MJM’s grip.

    This state has amazing resources and location. It just needs to stop being so corrupt and dysfunctional.

  17. - Robert Lincoln - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:14 pm:

    Thanks 47th. I wish I had your optimism. I just don’t

  18. - Arsenal - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:16 pm:

    Absolutely. We’re the home of Abe Lincoln and Curtis Mayfield. We’ll figure it out.

  19. - Responsa - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:16 pm:

    Not really. I don’t think the GA as a body or anybody currently running for governor has shown they have the understanding, the wherewithal, or the courage to address Illinois’ fundamental structural and embedded fiscal problems.

    I love so much about my home state but worry for its future. Can kicking behind us and more can kicking ahead is mostly what I see.

  20. - Norseman - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:18 pm:

    Yes. It looks like Rauner will be gone. I don’t see the same disastrous rhetoric and policies we saw from Blago and Rauner. With tinfoil hat firmly in place, I expect Madigan to retire shortly after the Pritzker victory. While there will be renewed interest in expanding social programs by Dems, I see the leadership act as a governor for that desire given the State’s poor credit rating.

    Bottom line is that it can’t get any worse than the Blago/Quinn/Rauner years.

  21. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:19 pm:

    I try to be an optimist, so a qualified yes. Not if Rauner wins. Pritzker is the unknown that Rauner was in 2014 and deserves the same chance. I want to see the state move in a more progressive direction, with laws like expanded health insurance, legal marijuana and expanded MMJ, progressive income tax, etc.

  22. - Robert Lincoln - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:20 pm:

    Pensions are an anchor around our neck on the municipal, county and state level. We cannot tax our way out of it. Graft is ingrained into every level of politics. Partisan politics have gone over a cliff and cannot come back. One party rule of democrats is not the answer. That’s my pessimism.

  23. - City Zen - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:20 pm:

    Yes, but Illinois’ future will come at the expense of mine.

  24. - Dog on Sheffield - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:21 pm:

    Yes - This state is still full of smart, no-nonsense, hard-working people. Eventually, we’ll start electing them.

  25. - Pundent - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:23 pm:

    I’m hopeful in that the experiment of the last 3.5 years will likely soon come to an end and optimistic that we have a candidate who doesn’t feel that the solution to our problems is an all out assault on labor unions. He also seems able to acknowledge the need for revenue without demanding hostages in return.

    I also believe that we’re in the twilight of Mike Madigan’s career as House Speaker. Ironically I think the only thing that prolonged it was Bruce Rauner. I’m hopefully that we’ll see a much younger speaker come in with new ideas and less focus on maintaining power.

  26. - Red Ranger - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:24 pm:

    Not really. The taxes will continue to go up and the quality of education (especially higher ed) will continue to decline. The Illinois exodus is real. We will become a state of the haves and have nots, with a very small middle class. I don’t see the catlyst to change the trajectory we are on. Parts of Chicago and select suburbs will boom, downstate will continue to lose population and larger parts of northern IL and many suburbs will continue their decline. I just don’t see what changes it.

  27. - Pick a Name - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:26 pm:

    No. This state is about to elect a governor who is struggling to even campaign, let alone govern. Dems will continue to raise taxes, pushing more and more people and businesses to leave, and discouraging entrepreneurs to expand . Another poster mentioned the impact of a recession. It will be dramatic in this state. Will young people ever leave their parent’s basements? How will they deal with high student debt? I feel sorry for the 25-50 age group that reside in Illinois.

  28. - Perrid - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:39 pm:

    I always have hope. There’s going to be ups and downs, always going to be problems, but life goes on for most people. I’m not trying to minimize the people hurt by the impasse or the people who have trouble making ends meet with their taxes to try and pay down the State’s debt, but for most people, in the long run? They’ll get through and live their lives just fine, more or less regardless of the goings on in the capitol. I’m also not saying these decisions and issues aren’t important, just that if you take a breath and step back, most of the time you’ll find that, in fact, the sky is NOT falling.

  29. - Anonimity - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:40 pm:


    We have a critical pension problem and an inability to balance our budget. Higher taxes will solve the problem but will drive/keep away business.

    Also, for all the money we have spent that has driven this state into the fiscal hole it is in, we have a crumbling infrastructure to show for it. Someone walking around this state would look around and ask “where did the money go?”

  30. - Red Ranger - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:43 pm:

    47th, since we’re talking in generalities, the people you sit next to on the CTA may be willing to fight, but the people on the Metra are waiting for their kids to get out of high school so they can move to Florida, Tennessee, Arizona or Texas or the Carolinas. The people on the Metra also don’t want their kids to go to IL schools of higher ed

  31. - SwampyCorn - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:43 pm:

    Not at all, but we get the elected officials–and therefore the “solutions”– that we want to elect. The last 4 years didn’t help, but our problems go way back and the ideas to ‘fix’ the state don’t look nearly far enough forward.

  32. - Robert the Bruce - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:43 pm:


    1) The pension debt isn’t going away.

    2) A progressive income tax isn’t easy, thanks to our Constitution.

    3) Even in the short run, there’s a chance Rauner could win, and I haven’t been impressed with Pritzker’s knowledge of, or willingness to share, any details.

    4) The general demographic trend of folks leaving Midwestern states for warmer climates.

    5) The increased polarization of the electorate, combined with gerrymandering, leads to fewer moderate voices in both parties.

  33. - Flat Bed Ford - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:44 pm:

    =Bottom line is that it can’t get any worse than the Blago/Quinn/Rauner years.=

    Pritzker- Hold my beer…

  34. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:46 pm:

    No. We have major financial issues that one wants to actually address, partly because we allowed them to become too big. We simply don’t have the leadership on either side of the aisle or either branch of the government that will start fixing the problems.

  35. - Earnest - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:47 pm:

    Yes, I am optimistic. We are a diverse state in every way with potential everywhere. We have passed a bipartisan, permanent income tax increase which goes a long way towards budgetary stability–that was an almost-unimaginable accomplishment. Lots of challenges and difficult choices about spending and revenue ahead, but I think we’ve got what it takes.

  36. - 47th Ward - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:49 pm:

    ===The people on the Metra also don’t want their kids to go to IL schools===

    Lol, the people on Metra don’t want to pay higher fares but want better service. Think that mindset will change when they move out of Illinois? Me neither.

  37. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:50 pm:

    What Red said at 2:24.

    Some people will do very well in Illinois, the same as they always have. Other folks will do well enough such that they realize they probably can’t do much better anywhere else, bite the bullet and put up with the higher taxes that will be needed to keep the state’s head above water, they may even stay and pony up because they “love” Illinois. More people will get fed up and leave for greener pastures. Many folks will do worse, and won’t have the resources to leave. I see the overall trajectory as downward, for a long time, and then “maybe” start back up after the pension debt is retired. Hopefully, those in charge won’t make the same mistakes that got us here in the first place. But this is Illinois, so that can’t be counted on.

    Bottom line, it all depends on whether the state can attract businesses to move here and/or expand; with fewer good-paying jobs, the population and tax revenues will continue to shrink. I see myself bailing in a year or two, with out-of-control property taxes being the catalyst.

  38. - RNUG - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:51 pm:

    Cautiously optimistic. It’s going to require some tough choices, more revenue, and a fair amount of can kicking, but I see stablization occurring in the near future. Business’s care about stable and predictable more than about anything else … and we have been lacking that for a decade and a half.

  39. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:56 pm:

    –the people on Metra don’t want to pay higher fares but want better service.–

    Lately, the people on Metra have been paying higher fares, but aren’t getting the better service promised to justify the higher fares.

  40. - Red Ranger - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:57 pm:

    I think the people on the Metra have had their fares go up a lot in the last couple of years, meanwhile the train conditions continue to decline, on time service is a rarity and we have 57 conductors on a train checking tickets by hand in the year 2018. Please raise my ticket another $1 that is surely the answer.

  41. - OurMagician - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:57 pm:

    No, the voters are being asked to choose between a complete unknown package in Pritzker and his very incomplete details promises and Rauner who actually could have been a stalwart against Madigan if he hadn’t overshot what he could do as a R in a D state and spent 4 years attacking and tweaking at the Speaker.

    Madigan has been the author or part of all the pension bills in this state from the Thompson 3% guarantee in the late 80’s, the Edgar Ramp in the 90’s, the early retirement package of Ryan in the early 00’s, the pension holidays of Blago, and the court ruled unconstitutional changes under Quinn. There is no political will on his part to stand up and say that the way to change the pensions is to change the constitution but his fear and desire to continue to rule the state outweighs any thought to trying and actually placing the state on a better course. 2/3rds of the state have been born since he’s been in office, no one would say we’re in a better place in that time. None of that is mean he is the end all and sole cause of all the state’s issues. He is one though that could lead positive changes but is far too wrapped in tribal/partisan politics to attempt any grand change that might alienate his base.

  42. - RNUG - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 2:59 pm:

    == Bottom line is that it can’t get any worse than the Blago/Quinn/Rauner years. ==

    -Norseman-, you know better than to make a blanket statement like that.

  43. - Ole General - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 3:00 pm:

    Unfortunately not. The constitutional ironclad resolution on pensions is a problem that neither party seems to have an answer for.

    We made bold promises to good, honest working people but vastly overestimated returns during a bull market.

    Here is what truly terrifies me: We are in the midst of one of the longest bull markets in US history and our fiscal position has gotten worse. Blame whomever you want, but the next recession is going to really pressure Chicago and the entire state.

    Sure, we could go after additional revenue, but a progressive income tax is years away and I don’t see the electorate stomaching another round of property taxes. Could we go after retirement income? Yes, but I think it’s demographic and political suicide for whomever chooses that road.

    The positives are that the business core of Chicago and surrounding northern and Northwestern parts of the city are exploding and city is well-positioned for the 21st century in terms of attracting talent. Still, the city is losing 150,000+ black people per decade and with new immigration restrictions, we have no natural replacement for those losses. That will only exacerbate poverty in those abandoned communities and lead to a spiral.

    Rahm wasn’t an idiot. He understood that you have to grow yourself out of the current fiscal challenges, because constant tax increases drive people out of the city/state. The soda tax was an example and Block Club recently reported about outrage in Lakeview over property taxes. This will become the norm over the next xx years until the fiscal boat is solved.

    I hope this wasn’t political because I’m not trying to create issues in this thread. But no, not optimistic no matter who wins the election.

  44. - A guy - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 3:08 pm:

    Hopeful is something we have to be.

  45. - Anon - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 3:14 pm:

    ===Unfortunately not. The constitutional ironclad resolution on pensions is a problem that neither party seems to have an answer for.===

    Pretty sure the answer to this is pretty simply, we just gotta pay them.

    The debate should be whether to stick with the Edgar Destroy Illinois Ramp, or amortize the payments to a different schedule.

  46. - Red Ranger - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 3:18 pm:

    What is missing from this thread, is the catylist to change Illinois. What is it? In California a tech and financial services boom is leading to growth; although they are spending it faster than they can take it in. Mass is benefiting from new tech and health care money. Many southern states are benefiting from population growth and people coming to their states with their wealth and the their jobs. As a Illinois life-er I want my state to comeback, but I’m not naive.

  47. - 47th Ward - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 3:23 pm:

    Red Ranger, one way of boosting population is to encourage more legal immigration. About 100 or so years ago that seemed to work wonders for Illinois and it’s still paying dividends.

  48. - Wish I could be hopeful - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 3:26 pm:

    …but I can’t. The GOP ineptitude will lead to huge democrat majorities and Governor’s office. This will only embolden the public sector unions to use tax increase money for more spending on contracts vs dedicating new revenues to paying off debts. Property taxes will reach a point where you can’t sell your home because prospective home buyers can’t afford the payments. High wage earners will continue to flee, Progressive’s will continue to enact laws that make it nearly impossible for businesses to expand and create new jobs. I really wish I could be more positive but I actually think prospects are pretty bleak. Partisanship has hit an all-time low with no relief in sight. Ugh.

  49. - @misterjayem - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 3:34 pm:

    “Are you at all hopeful about Illinois’ future?”

    Yes — but my hope about Illinois’ future is tempered by my dire misgivings about America’s future.

    – MrJM

  50. - Not It - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 3:40 pm:

    Nope. I have yet to see any leaders who want to make difficult decisions. They all think we can sprinkle magic fairybdust over our problems and they will go away.

  51. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 3:44 pm:

    It has improved over the last 40 years, and I certainly don’t see any hope of the political establishment here in Illinois changing their irresponsible political behavior.

  52. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 3:49 pm:

    Even as a conservative, I detest Rauner. Unfortunately, I do not see JB doing any better. Its a case of where I can’t hold my nose and vote.

  53. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 3:51 pm:

    forgot to address the question: no, I do not have hope for IL future as long as the leaders in both parties continue to be elected and run things.

  54. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 3:58 pm:

    I am moderately optimistic. After years of spending more than we take in (including unfunded pensions), the state may balance revenues with expenditures. I think it will take a 7% income tax rate under the current system to get there. That rate will move some people at the margin out of state.
    My greater worry is that Pritzker will expand services and squander the opportunity to stabilize the state.

    The have vs. have not gap will continue to widen. We seem to have developed an underclass that believes in its own victimhood. That is scary.

    I still see solutions to many of our problems. And we have many hardworking people with great skills. Artificial intelligence is the great economic unknown. That can create dislocation that is hard to manage.

  55. - SSL - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 4:15 pm:

    Not optimistic at all.

    The pension bogey is a disaster and will continue to use up resources that are needed elsewhere.

    The tax burden in Illinois is already high. Yet a thirst remains to tax more.

    It just isn’t that hard to leave the state. People are more mobile than ever. Economy is strong.

    The argument for staying is what exactly? Climate?

    I don’t know how long Rich plans to keep this blog going, but it won’t be long enough to see Illinois turn it around.

    Have a great weekend everyone.

  56. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 4:16 pm:

    I want to be but can’t given that the people who led us into this situation are still in control. Rauner isn’t the cause, he didn’t fix it but he didn’t create it. Illinois was a mess under Quinn and Rod. Maybe Madigan is losing his control but until we see tangible proof of that we have no reason to be hopeful. No one wants to take responsibility for the mess they’ve put this state in and denial rarely leads to recovery.

  57. - Jibba - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 4:26 pm:

    I am hopeful, but I also imagine things might get a lot worse before we are forced to do the right things (collect enough tax money to pay the bills, keep the bills as low as possible, end corruption because we can’t afford it). I see us being a relatively high tax state with moderate to low services for several decades, which is not the end of the world.

    Tier 1 pensioners will die off eventually, Chicago can and will continue to grow, and our environmental advantages (reliable water, livable climate, good soil) will cause influx of people and businesses, although only after things get really bad in the South and West (drought, fire, heat, bad weather). In fact, our winters will start looking pretty good (think Tennessee), but our summers will be hotter (think Alabama or Texas).

  58. - Anonymous - Friday, Sep 14, 18 @ 4:30 pm:

    No I do not. A progressive income tax is over 2 years away, if it ever becomes law. JB will have to raise taxes on the middle class to support his new spending plans, as soon as he gets in office. I see business and tax payers moving out of this state, under the tax and debt burden. I also see JB as a person who has no plans to solve Illinois” problems, but to continue to raise taxes.

  59. - this site - Tuesday, Sep 18, 18 @ 6:19 am:

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