Editorials

Election math in Illinois statehouse equals multiple casualties

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and House Majority Leader Barbara Fynn Currie, D-Chicago, have made their calculations. Apparently, they do not include a budget.
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and House Majority Leader Barbara Fynn Currie, D-Chicago, have made their calculations. Apparently, they do not include a budget. Photo illustration

The calculus appears to be that Illinois voters have short memories and have trouble picking out the weak members from the running herd. Chances of being held accountable for Illinois’ financial meltdown and the decades it could take to recover are slim. Much easier to put up a scapegoat and just keep chanting his name to assign blame.

Rau-ner. Raun-NER. RAU-NER.

There will be no budget until 2018. We’ve lived two years without one, we will live another two so they can all point at him. The newcomer can’t govern. The guy who says our decades of excess and concentrated power should end must be ended. “Rauner is wrong.”

Illinois state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, was appointed to the committee to “work with” Rauner. Minutes into their assignment came the press conference during which the four lieutenants of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan made it clear they were there to “work against” Rauner and clear a path for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

They added few off-topic ideas. They started pointing fingers and sidestepping responsibility. And Madigan’s second-in-command, Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, said this with a straight face: “House Democrats believe the budget crisis demands immediate action, and it is our hope to show Gov. Rauner that we stand ready to work with him.”

As Austin Berg of the Illinois Policy Institute points out, state lawmakers have cheered a day off and made time to discuss their basketball and softball teams. Weeks have passed since any of the public hearings or committee working sessions were held that would signal true progress toward any budget, much less a balanced budget, much much less a balanced budget without a massive tax hike.

“My sense is this is probably a last-minute attempt to create a distraction and derail the senators who seem to be making progress and coming close to an agreement,” Rauner said.

Lawmakers are gone May 31. With them goes the fantasy of a budget and starting to fix anything in Illinois.

We have the nation’s highest tax burden at 15 percent of our income. Even with that, we are $14.5 billion behind in our immediate bills and $130 billion in the hole for state pensions. Social services are crumbling, universities are losing students and faculty and 148,000 millennials moved out of Illinois just as they are entering their prime working and taxpaying years.

Springfield doesn’t care to see the current damage, much less the bleak future in which fewer aging workers pay even more than 15 percent. They just see 2018. They just see their campaign calculations.

(Rauner = Wrong) + (Illinois - Rauner) = Madigan > Illinois.

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