Monday, October 19, 2015

Edgar the political hack (sort of), while Rauner the anti-labor ideologue

So what should we think of the fact that former Gov. Jim Edgar is now critical of the incumbent chief executive of Illinois and the way he has failed to get state government to approve the balanced budget that is mandated by the state Constitution?

EDGAR: Budget a priority
Personally, it doesn’t shock me, except perhaps that it took Edgar (who served two terms as governor back in the 1990s) four months into the current fiscal year before he expressed his thoughts.

I SUSPECT HE has felt this way ever since the current fiscal year began on July 1, only he kept his mouth shut out of some sense of loyalty to the “Republican” label that both Edgar and Bruce Rauner bear.

But the difference between the two is that Edgar was a government official, while Rauner is a business executive who ran for elective office in last year’s election cycle under the line of logic that he wanted to toss out the “old way” of doing things.

Largely because he and his allies view government as the element that gets in the way of maximizing their financial bottom line.

Edgar was literally the guy who got out of college and became, first an intern, then a staffer with the Legislature. Later, he became a legislator, a gubernatorial aide, then secretary of state before he ran for terms as governor in 1990 and 1994.

THIS IS A guy who is going to view the putting together of a budget for the daily operations of state government as a priority – perhaps even the highlight for the state’s fiscal year.

Whereas Rauner is the guy who had never run for office, and openly campaigned on his opposition to organized labor and union concerns. He probably does think achieving something toward that goal is more important than a budget.

Probably because he has deluded himself to thinking that government continues to operate regardless of the process, and that the agencies and programs that are now being forced to shutter themselves aren’t all that important – at least not to him.

RAUNER: Labor opposition to the death?!?
So the fact that Edgar has given a few interviews to say that Rauner needs to act to approve a budget? It is one of those rare moments for those political geeks who live for the minutia of government procedure.

SO WHAT HAPPENS now? I don’t think Rauner will be swayed by anything Edgar says. Rauner is the guy who has said a budget could come some time around January or February – although he also says it is because Chicago city government is in need of state support, which will force city legislators to back him if they want the City Council to receive its aid.

Which, to my ears, sounds like he’s claiming Chicago ineptitude, and that the state will have to come to its rescue. But I also know that EVERY municipality in Illinois gets a significant share of its funds from the state.

The lack of a state budget is going to flow down and cause problems for everybody – even those communities with Republican leadership who want to think that Rauner is paying special attention to them.

As for Edgar, what should we think of him telling the Illinois Radio Network, “We can’t hold the budget hostage for other issues,” adding later, “We have to set priorities, and the priority, I believe, is the budget.”

I REALIZE THAT for Rauner, the anti-labor measures are the priority. He made it clear when he campaigned that’s what he wants.

While I disagree with such a priority, I understand he’s not going to give it up so long as he’s governor. I fully expect he will resurrect his efforts during the spring of 2016 – and also will use his money during next year’s election cycle to try to shift the balance of power so that the Legislature won’t be so solidly opposed to him.

If he can accomplish such things, then so be it. The will of the voters will have spoken.

But until then, the budget battle has become evidence of how purely ideological our political scene has become – with the one-time “Gov. No” known for his willingness to refuse to go along with Chicago political desires now using his “No” to try to sway the senses of our governor.


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