Illinois lawmakers took about 735 days after Gov. Bruce Rauner took office to figure out what 98 general assemblies before them instinctively knew: You can’t govern without compromise.
Republicans and Democrats in the Illinois Senate are actually talking and horse trading their way towards progress on a budget — that would be the thing that disciplines state spending that we’ve been without for 567 days and the purpose of which some may have forgotten. A minimum wage hike is being traded for workers’ comp reform. An income tax hike is offset by a property tax freeze. They are talking about pension reforms, borrowing to pay off the $10.9 billion pile of bills, term limits on the Senate president and more gambling.
Both sides give something, both sides get something. What a novel concept, and to think it started with Democratic Senate President John Cullerton and Republican Minority Leader Christine Radogno talking.
The proposals coming this way include slots for Fairmount Park horse track — why not when every bar and restaurant in the area has them — as well as a 75-cent increase to $9 for the minimum wage on July 1 and a state income tax hike from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent of your earnings.
So what’s up with 4.95 percent? Do lawmakers think taxpayers will be lulled by a number lower than 5 percent? Is there some numerology or karma involved?
Illinois leaders sold residents on a temporary tax hike to 5 percent as a way to dig out of our financial hole. Well, the hike collected an extra $25 billion but Illinois ended up in worse fiscal shape than before. Will this time be any different?
Optimism and compromise may yet face an ugly death in the Illinois House, where representatives in unison again put Mike Madigan in charge. It’s hard to change when you’ve been nodding “yes” to the same guy since 1983 as he deigns to let you exist.
No word on term limits for the House Speaker (heh, heh, heh).