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After overrides, how much political capital does Rauner have left?

In this file photo, Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks in the Illinois House chamber in Springfield.
In this file photo, Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks in the Illinois House chamber in Springfield. AP

When the Democratically-controlled General Assembly overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s vetoes of a tax increase and spending plan, it did so with GOP votes, ignoring calls from the first-term Republican governor to support his vetoes.

With the 4.95 percent income tax and $36 billion spending plan approved without the business-friendly reforms Rauner has been pushing, how much influence and political capital does the governor have left?

Jak Tichenor, the interim director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, said Rauner’s campaign war chest can help the governor maintain influence over his party.

“He’s not done by a long shot,” Tichenor said. “He still wields a considerable interest on the GOP side of the aisle.”

Rauner remains the party’s top benefactor and has $70 million in his campaign war chest.

Certainly it’s news when they break with the governor, but I certainly think it would be a real mistake to write Bruce Rauner off at this stage of this game.

Jak Tichenor, interim director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

Tichenor added that Republicans who broke from Rauner still want to see passage of key parts of the governor’s agenda such as workers compensation reforms.

“Members who did vote for the tax increase and the overrides basically voted their districts,” Tichenor said. He said many are from areas with state universities, which had been suffering during the impasse, as well as state facilities.

Members also have most likely been hearing from vendors and medical providers who have not been paid during the impasse.

“Certainly it’s news when they break with the governor, but I certainly think it would be a real mistake to write Bruce Rauner off at this stage of this game,” Tichenor said.

He added, “He hasn’t gotten what he’s wanted yet, but if you believe the Democratic leaders that they want to continue negotiating in good faith on those issues, they may still bear some fruit.”

There are areas where progress was made, such as K-12 education funding changes where the solution has eluded lawmakers for decades. The only disagreement is how much Chicago Public Schools get, Tichenor said.

“If that becomes law, work that out, that’s a big-ticket item that has eluded every governor (in) the last few decades,” Tichenor said.

Republicans in Illinois fought Madigan’s machine in 2014 to elect Gov. Rauner and won. In 2016 we beat Madigan again and made historic gains in the House and the Senate. After all we have accomplished together, it is astonishing that these legislators would now turn their backs on taxpayers across the state. I am confident voters will hold those politicians accountable for choosing Mike Madigan over the people of Illinois.

Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider

Now that Rauner has vetoed the tax increase, and the General Assembly has overridden him, the governor can campaign on how he fought against the tax hike, but have the benefit of having a budget in place.

“He will be able to say, in all honesty, he opposed (Speaker) Mike Madigan’s 32 percent income tax increase, fought it tooth-and-nail, he worked it as hard as anyone could work it. The Republican party spent a lot of money railing against this thing, he has spoken repeatedly against it,” Tichenor said.

Rauner also could employ other messages such as: “I kept the operations going through this chaos, I kept state workers employed, we kept meeting the payroll, it was tough, but we did it. We inconvenienced as few people as possible,” Tichenor added. “There’s a lot of things that could happen between now and 2018.”

Kent Redfield, a longtime expert on Illinois politics, said when Rauner was elected in 2014, he went into the job under divided government, and it meant both sides would need to compromise.

“He expected to be able use the budget to leverage a turnaround agenda. He made a serious, and probably fatal error by focusing on the anti-labor stuff right out of the box.... He could have isolated AFSCME (negotiations), done a capital program, and built up things with the trade unions,” Redfield said. “Strategically he went for way too much and had too much faith in his ability, with a show of strength, bowl everybody over, which I’m sure is his business model of where he came from. I think it was a serious misreading of how politics work.”

Redfield added, “He felt he could use his veto position for leverage to get capitulation, and that obviously didn’t happen.”

Bruce Rauner’s legacy will be this – Republican lawmakers, seeing no benefit in continuing Rauner’s two-year budget crisis, broke with the governor and cut a bipartisan budget deal with Democrats. Rauner’s refusal to compromise drove away members of his own party.

Sam Salustro, Illinois communications director for Democratic Governors Association.

Redfield said Madigan also doesn’t look good from this situation.

“He’s blocked the governor. We ran the state government from the legislature when Blagojevich became increasingly dysfunctional, and that didn’t turn out well. You can’t run the state from the legislature,” Redfield said. “He controls the one House, and there’s no positive agenda, no set of positive accomplishments. His brand is permanently tarnished. People may think Rauner is terrible and that he’s a failure as governor, but that doesn’t make them like Madigan.”

“It behooves the Democrats strategically to do some things on the policy side. Rauner was not wrong, our business climate is not friendly,” Redfield added. “We’re not lean and mean in terms of our spending. The school aid formula might get done. He could have an impact on those things. If he could compromise and sign things, he could take credit for that.”

Strategically he went for way too much and had too much faith in his ability, with a show of strength, bowl everybody over, which I’m sure is his business model of where he came from. I think it was a serious misreading of how politics work.

Kent Redfield, a long time expert on Illinois politics

The governor’s office referred questions to the Illinois Republican party.

Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider said he was troubled by the 10 Republicans who voted to override Rauner’s vetoes of the state spending plan and income tax increase.

“Republicans in Illinois fought Madigan’s machine in 2014 to elect Gov. Rauner and won. In 2016 we beat Madigan again and made historic gains in the House and the Senate,” Schneider said. “After all we have accomplished together, it is astonishing that these legislators would now turn their backs on taxpayers across the state. I am confident voters will hold those politicians accountable for choosing Mike Madigan over the people of Illinois.”

The Democratic Governors Association was quick to point out the 10 Republicans in the House who broke ranks, and how they said the state needs additional revenue and spending cuts, and that there needed to be an end to the impasse.

“Bruce Rauner’s legacy will be this — Republican lawmakers, seeing no benefit in continuing Rauner’s two-year budget crisis, broke with the governor and cut a bipartisan budget deal with Democrats,” said Sam Salustro, Illinois communications director for Democratic Governors Association. “Rauner’s refusal to compromise drove away members of his own party.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter

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