Friday, May 22, 2015

A political cockfight?!?

It almost feels like we’re in some dingy, hidden-away structure where a batch of grungy men are gathered around, ready to plunk down their cash as bets on which of two wild roosters are about to win the fight they’re being thrown into.

The mood is gloomy once again at the Illinois Statehouse
The cocks themselves are snarling and squawking, readying themselves for the attack – which is about to occur any second.

NOW IF OUR cocks were named “Bruce Rauner” and “Michael Madigan,” we’d have a sense of what we’re about to experience in coming weeks – if not months.

It’s going to be a partisan political battle to the death, so to speak. And the people of Illinois are the ones who will inadvertently be thrown into the middle because there’s always the chance that the political battle will draw the state into the shutdown status IF they can’t agree on a budget for the upcoming fiscal year by July 1.

We’re at the point now where we’re one week away from the end of the 2015 spring legislative session. In typical years, there might still be some significant disagreements about what the state budget should be.

But there ought to be hope, and even some signs, that the sides will come together and hammer out some sort of agreement.


Rauner is making it clear he has his ideological agenda in mind, and he’s not about to take any guff from legislators who want to oppose him. Likewise, legislators want to make it clear they’re not about to let the new governor who got elected because of his anti-organized labor leanings just ram his desires down their throats.

RAUNER: The new guy?!?
And Illinois House Speaker Madigan wants it to be known that HE is the long-time, almighty boss of state government, not Rauner.

That sentiment is what has been behind the various bills the Legislature has rejected in recent days that theoretically advance the Rauner agenda – Madigan is letting it be known that a majority of legislators don’t approve of the “right to work” rhetoric that Rauner is fond of spewing.

RAUNER’S DESIRE TO fight back is what was behind his own statement, which his aides likely wrote for him and was published Thursday in the State Journal-Register newspaper of Springfield.

After ranting that political interests at the Statehouse are more entrenched than he ever envisioned during the 2014 campaign cycle, he made it clear he’s not about to compromise anything.

MADIGAN: The ol' pro!?!
“I might be new around here, but I understand what I was sent to do,” he said, adding that legislators ought to, “expect a very long extra session.” His aides were so eager to make sure I saw this statement that they e-mailed me a message Thursday morning to point it out.

So will our state’s General Assembly finish up its business by the end of next week, thereby sparing us a mass of political drama during the summer months?

FAT CHANCE. WE’D have a better chance of expecting the Chicago White Sox to rise from fourth place to first by season’s end.

All of this is so reminiscent of the 1991 legislative session – which was the first one in which Jim Edgar was governor. He wanted to run a sparse government in hopes of building up reserves for the future, while Madigan had his own vision.

The legislative session, which back then ran through the end of June, ended without a budget, and we reached a point where some government agencies had to shut down until a budget was in place. It became an Edgar/Madigan stalemate; where Edgar prevailed in the short-term by showing he wouldn't meekly back down.
EDGAR: Could he advise Rauner?
I still remember the matter not being resolved until the early hours of July 19 – which was a record back then. Although there have been other stalemates since then, including some of the ones brought about by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s desire to show Madigan who was boss.

ONE CAN ARGUE that Madigan is the ultimate winner; Edgar is long retired and Blagojevich remains incarcerated. Now, it seems that Rauner will be the latest person who works his way onto the list.

It seems that Rauner has the will for such a political battle. Madigan has long shown us his ability to be pig-headed and stubborn for political reasons. I don’t know who will win.

But I’m pretty sure that such a battle will catch all of us in the middle, and make us the ultimate losers!


No comments: