Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I’m surprised Quinn didn’t get an “F.” That would fit other ideological talk

QUINN: Soon to be Illinois' least-popular pol
Gov. Pat Quinn will set himself up on Wednesday for months of ridicule and abuse – and we’re bound to get many reports telling us how weak and ineffectual our governor truly is.

The “set-up” is the fact that Quinn will be at the Statehouse in Springpatch on Wednesday to formally present his budget proposal for the state government fiscal year that begins July 1.

WE’RE ALREADY HEARING the rhetoric that the governor’s proposal is nonsense and unrealistic and some sort of fantasy – even though nobody officially has heard it yet (unofficially, legislative leaders and their financial aides have been briefed during the past couple of days).

Which is why the rhetoric we’re getting now is as cheap as the talk that Quinn will spew when he gives his budget address during the noon hour.

Even though the statistic that gets tossed out each year is as accurate this year as it has been in the past – the budget that finally gets approved by the General Assembly at the end of May will be 98 percent the same as what Quinn proposes Wednesday.

It is that remaining 2 percent that we, the people of Illinois, will have to listen to the ideologues rant and rage about. And they'll have us believe the "2 percent" are the entirety of the issue.

IN FACT, I couldn’t help but notice the statement given earlier this week by Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Doug Whitley when he gave the governor a letter grade (as high as a “C+”) for his work toward job creation.

Quinn quickly quipped that there are some people out there (particularly those connected to the automobile industry) who would give him an “A.” Yet I’m honestly surprised that Whitley (who served for two years as Illinois revenue director under Gov. Jim Edgar) didn’t just give the governor a failing grade.

That kind of talk would have been completely in character with the ideological trash talk that we often get from people who want to advance their own interests at Illinois’ expense.

Which is to say that I don’t buy into the talk that rural-based states have more sound economies than urban-influenced Illinois – or that our state’s economic situation would be any significantly different IF ONLY we hadn’t elected Democrats to be governor in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 election cycles.

TOO MUCH OF the political criticism comes across as ideological nonsense, and that is what I am bracing myself for in coming weeks as we hear people trash Quinn for his attempt to move the state government in a financially-sound direction.

I’ll write it again. It took the state years to get into this position. It will take our government officials years to get out of it, and I really believe Quinn’s financial legacy will be nothing more than being the guy who stabilized government finances to the point where some future governor will get the chance to do great things for the people of Illinois.

Sorry, Pat. You just don’t have the funds to do anything costly. Which is why I am encouraged to hear that Quinn is speculating about such tough decisions as closing more state facilities, including youth corrections facilities.

Although the problem there lies with the fact that those facilities weren’t built as some sort of foolish financial frill. The services they provide are needed – no matter how much the ideologues want to complain that there is “always” waste in government.

WE’LL FIND OUT Wednesday what kind of closures will be considered, along with possible cuts in Medicaid that Quinn also has hinted at. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Quinn’s approval ratings in the polls are so low. Perhaps if he had high ratings, it would mean he wasn’t doing his job.

So Quinn will speak his “unpopular” thoughts. Then, we’ll get to hear all the political people complain.

Personally, I’m waiting to hear who comes up with the complaint that Manfred Mann’s 1968 hit song, “The Mighty Quinn” ought to be banned in Illinois as being dishonest.

That will be when we will have reached the low point.


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