Monday, May 10, 2010

Will “the Mighty Quinn” resolve our state’s fiscal fiasco? Tune in next month! Same “Pat time,” same “Pat channel”

Will this year’s elections for Illinois government essentially become a moot point by month’s end?

I’m wondering what the chances are that Gov. Pat Quinn will come up with some “solution” to our state’s financial problems that will essentially put the state in the right direction, thereby showing his competence in the position and making it so that only the most hard-core GOP partisan crank will continue with political trash talk.

CAN PAT QUINN essentially prove that he’s worthy of his own four-year term as governor before the deadline three weeks from Monday, after which Republicans get the potential to wreck havoc on the process and ensure that we will go through the summer months without any kind of budget in place to allow state government to operate during the upcoming fiscal year.

Or, could all that rhetoric be little more than a pipe dream. Could the next three weeks turn out to be the period during which Quinn shows his incompetence to such a level that he shows how unworthy he is of being our state’s governor through January, 2015?

Is Quinn going to blow it so big in coming weeks that he will ensure the election of Anybody But Quinn – which would translate into the selection of William Brady as our state’s 42nd governor? I’m not convinced the man has enough of a comprehension of the entirety of Illinois to do justice to the electoral office, and I wonder if his recent decision to show up AFTER ALL at the Illinois Republican Party fundraiser to be held Wednesday in suburban Rosemont is a sign that he knows he needs the Chicago-area exposure, even if it means being seen in public with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Then again, Quinn could bomb out so big that he might not be any better fit for that position.

ALL OF THIS is to summarize the thoughts rambling through my head this weekend – the days following the Friday adjournment “to the call of the chair” of the Illinois General Assembly.

As those of you who care know by now, our state’s Legisalture did NOT approve an income tax hike, or any kind of tax boost, to generate more revenue to keep state government going at its current levels. Nor did they approve measures allowing them to borrow money.

The General Assembly also did not make serious cuts in the budgets of many programs (some of which amount to life or death for some people) in order to keep them within the confines of the amount of money the state will actually have.

The Illinois Senate approved a measure that allows the state to skip its payments to pension programs for various types of retired state workers and educators, so that the money could be used elsewhere. But the Illinois House didn’t approve that, so nothing happened.

THEY DID NOT even go along with a measure that would have given the Illinois governor the authority to make some moves on his own to keep government going. So what we're stuck with is Quinn having to take the lead on getting the Legislature's leaders to agree on something so as to make it worth their while to return to the Statehouse to approve a more permanent solution.

In short, the Legislature punted. We now get to see what Quinn will do. I’m sure the Republican officials who went along with this did so out of the belief that Pat will screw up so badly that he will ensure that his election hopes are flushed down the toilet some time about Memorial Day. Of course, that was the same logic used by Republican legislators in 1995 when they voted for a series of reforms for Chicago schools that wound up succeeding locally.

As for Democrats in the Legislature who backed this idea, I’m sure they will spew the rhetoric that whatever bad idea comes from the governor, they had nothing to do with it.

Now I am curious to see “what” happens, although “when” interests me more.

BECAUSE IF A solution can be reached within the next three weeks and the Legislature can be brought back to the capital city for a day or two, then it would go a long way toward reinforcing the idea that Quinn isn’t totally incompetent. It is if things start stretching beyond the May 31 deadline for the Legislature to pass a budget or the July 1 date when the new fiscal year begins (and government cannot operate without a budget in place) that the GOP starts getting bonus points in the minds of the public.

The trick is to remember that there is no “perfect” solution. The state’s financial problems have evolved over several years, and it will take a long period of time to fix things. Quinn might have to accept that his job is to restore the state’s finances so that a future governor can achieve great goals.

Personally, I think it is to the advantage of Democrats in general to want to resolve this situation quickly, because we’re going to have to endure the summertime trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich – and we all remember the chaos that used to occur in the budgetary process when Milorod and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, could never play nice; resulting in budget deadlines being blown so often.

The Dems ought to want to show that the chaos of those years is a thing of the past, and that order has been restored. Otherwise, people might mistake Brady’s inexperience at a statewide level for a solution.

SO WHEN QUINN on Saturday said the state is “pretty close” right now to approving a budget and that the vote will “certainly” be before the end of May, is it because he knows something we don’t?

Or should such talk be taken about as seriously as whenever Ozzie Guillen (.406, 3rd Place) or Lou Piniella (.438, 5th Place) tell us that their respective Chicago baseball clubs are much better than their records reflect?


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