Monday, June 8, 2015

EXTRA: Is state’s budget battle about to devolve into Chicago vs. rural Ill. brawl? Yes, if Rauner gets his way

It’s no secret that Gov. Bruce Rauner is prepared to play partisan politics hardball in his effort to force the General Assembly into giving approval to at least a few of the anti-organized labor measures he views as essential to benefit business interests in Illinois.

But for someone who claims he’s being revolutionary and shaking up the way things are being done in this state, his tactics seem so retro. So repetitive of the past.

HOW ELSE TO view the appearances the governor made Monday in Marion and Belleville? Both of which are Southern Illinois communities whose legislators are of the Democratic Party persuasion.

They are part of the majority that is so large that Democrats can literally ignore Rauner’s rhetoric. They can override anything the governor chooses to veto – which ultimately puts the power of government in the hands of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and state Senate President John Cullerton, both Chicago Democrats.

So how does Rauner try to overcome a Legislature that is stacked against him? By trying to change this from Democrat vs. Republican to Chicago vs. the rest of the state.

Trying to make it so that those non-Chicago area communities that have Democratic Party representation will bolt from following their legislative leaders and choose to back him instead.

TURNING THIS INTO an urban vs. rural brawl could work amongst some people. After all, much of the reason that former Gov. Pat Quinn didn’t get re-election was the perception among some Illinoisans that they wanted a rural-oriented leadership within state government.

But if that attitude had truly been prevalent in 2014, then Rauner never would have won the Republican primary to begin with.

Which is why I believe that if Rauner is truly to be successful, he’s going to have to be more broad-based in his appeal than to be the governor of rural Illinois. And I don’t think tactics like the ones he used on Monday are going to accomplish that.

Rauner made a point of criticizing the local legislators in Marion and Bellville (a St. Louis-area suburb) to, “stand up for taxpayers instead of Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton.”

AMONG THOSE WHO came under criticism Monday were state Sens. Gary Forby of Benton, Bill Haine of Alton and James Claybourne of Belleville, along with state Reps. John Bradley of Marion, Brandon Phelps of Harrisburg, Jay Hoffman of Swansea, Jerry Costello of Smithson and Daniel Beiser of Alton. Not exactly like-minded, identical communities.

Yet all the rhetoric is generic. The Southern Illinois and St. Louis-area legislators are being treated as an anonymous lump by the Rauner backers.

Which sounds so much like the accusations that Raunerites are making about the same legislators – that they’re acting like generic Chicago-type pols. I have always found that line of logic to be so laughable.

Unless Rauner really believes that the only way for them to think independently is for them to behave in lock-step unison with the business-oriented thought process he’s trying to impose on all of Illinois.

SO RAUNER IS trying to split the Democratic caucuses in the Legislature based on geography – hoping to isolate Chicago and its inner suburbs which account for about 45 percent of the state’s population and which has made it clear on many occasions that it has no support for the trash that Rauner talks.

Which may be the strength that legislators in opposition to Rauner may have to being able to remain firm to their principles and not be forced to give in to the guv.

There are a lot of people who have their own ideas about what constitutes reform, and they all have a right to be taken into account.

The sooner the governor realizes that fact and the notion that is way is not the only way to achieve reform (and a balanced budget), the sooner the nonsense talk will come to an end at the Statehouse in Springfield.


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