* Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) on why the Fair Tax did so poorly…
“I think we didn’t communicate effectively with voters,” Guzzardi said. “We didn’t tell a clear story about why we needed the money and what we were going to spend it on to help people’s lives. I think we didn’t tell people where to find it on the ballot.
“We didn’t do a good job of pointing people in the right direction,” he added. “And we didn’t really start communicating with voters at all in a serious way. We let a year go by without campaigning at all on the question” after the General Assembly approved the progressive income tax in the spring of last year and passed the ballot initiative on to voters.
Most disturbing, however, was the way the anti-tax TV campaign bankrolled by billionaire Kenneth Griffin gained traction with voters on the issue of “trust” in government.
“I also think we have a credibility problem, a trust problem,” Guzzardi granted. “Illinois voters really responded to the ‘no’ messaging about this campaign. ‘You can’t trust Illinois Democrats with your money.’ And that’s a real problem for us. And it’s going to hinder our ability to solve the state’s challenges going forward. So that’s something we really have to take a hard look at.”
Yep. They had no real-world policy angle, they didn’t adequately inform voters about how to find it on the ballot, they didn’t start communicating at a time when the other side didn’t have any money and there is a serious trust problem which wasn’t adequately addressed with a forceful enough and early enough counter-response to turn voter anger in a different direction.
I’d also add that, like many policy solutions this governor has offered (cannabis legalization, for example), the plan itself was complicated, which allowed the other side to pick it apart.
* Back to Guzzardi…
The “trust” issue resonated after that, even as the General Assembly has seen abundant turnover just in the last few elections. “Next year will be the beginning of my fourth term, and I’m going to be in the top third in seniority,” Guzzardi said, “so a ton of turnover.” Yet voters still bought the argument that they couldn’t trust Springfield, even as this General Assembly little resembles the legislature of 20 or 25 years ago.
Guzzardi explained, “Voters still see the same leadership at the top, and it looks to a lot of voters like Madigan’s been the speaker since time immemorial, so what’s really changed?”