Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Are Rauner/Edgar alike on taxes?

It was the 1994 election cycle in Illinois when Gov. Jim Edgar blasted (and whomped all over) Democratic opponent Dawn Clark Netsch for her proposal to shift public education funding from local property taxes to state income taxes.

It would result in significant tax hikes, Edgar said. Netsch would wind up harming the populace of Illinois. Just as current Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner is claiming Gov. Pat Quinn will do with his desire to have the state income tax remain at a higher level -- rather than revert back to the levels of old.

RAUNER WANTS TO think this single issue will result in Illinois voters dumping Quinn come Nov. 4. He's spending millions to ensure that thought gets pumped into the mindset of the electorate.

There's just one thing to contemplate. A few years after lambasting Netsch, Edgar tried unsuccessfully to implement a state education funding reform proposal that many political observers said was identical to Netsch's rhetoric.

History seems to be repeating itself in this election cycle. For Rauner spoke with the Chicago Tribune, which reported Thursday that he says the idea of a sudden decrease in the state income tax (the concept that he's trying to peddle to ideologically-minded voters) isn't going to happen.

He told the newspaper that the bottom line isn't getting back to 3 percent for an income tax (it has been 5 percent in recent years), but is now creating a more business-friendly climate in Illinois.

THAT WILL INCLUDE some sort of cut. But it might not be the full cut that some people are being led to believe is their birthright.

The part of the Tribune report that caught my attention was the concept that the final tax rate is going to wind up being negotiated by Rauner with the General Assembly.

Does Rauner himself realize that the concept he's peddling to voters of an income tax rate restoration is not realistic, and probably dangerous to the financial status of Illinois?

The state has obligations, and is going to need the revenue to meet them. There's just no getting around that. And whether one likes the idea of the higher income tax rate, there is a sense that Quinn is telling us the ugly truth when saying it needs to remain in place.

SO WHAT SHOULD we think of Rauner? I'm not about to call him a liar!

More a political opportunist. Making statements that sound good in their simplicity for people who can't stand the idea that government isn't simple. The kind of people for whom details are what is wrong with government officials.

Maybe those individuals will become disenchanted with Rauner. Only he's hoping it doesn't happen for another year, by which time he's entrenched in office and has until early 2019 to get something done.

But keep in mind that the rest of Illinois government is going to remain partisan to the Democratic Party. For the Legislature itself remains Dem-leaning and is not likely to change.

REPUBLICANS ARE PUTTING so little effort into the campaigns of other candidates running for office in this year's election cycle that Illinois will still have a Democratic-leaning government structure.

The truth is that Rauner, the candidate, is one of those business executives whose ego would like to have a political office in his life's story, and he thinks he can be the CEO of Illinois government.

Perhaps he thinks the Legislature is the equivalent of a board of directors put in place to rubber-stamp his decisions. Which just isn't going to be the case. Perhaps he's watched too much of the City Council and the way it kow-tows to the mayor?

It isn't going to happen on the Springfield scene anytime soon. Which makes me wonder if the day will come that people will ponder a Quinn defeat this year the same way they wonder what could have been if Netsch could have had an adequate campaign fund to fight back against Edgar's allegations.

THEN AGAIN, QUINN has the campaign fund to get his message out, even though he will get outspent by Rauner's personal contributions -- along with the millions coming from business interests who want a governor who will kneel before their desires.

It's not like a Rauner victory is really going to result in a sudden drop in the income tax, the way the ideologues fantasize about.


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