Thursday, March 24, 2016

A one-on-one Rauner/Madigan confrontation? Or whole lot of nothin'?

We’re now almost completely through Month 9 of Illinois Fiscal ’16 – the year without a budget.

The year that is bizarre enough that we can’t tell if the parties involved are doing anything to try to seriously resolve the financial issue that has ground certain parts of Illinois government to a halt!

SUPPOSEDLY, GOV. BRUCE Rauner made a telephone call recently to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. The subject matter? The budget.

Allegedly, the governor wants to talk, one-on-one, with Mr. Speaker. None of the other legislative leaders are invited. He wants it to be a direct confrontation – which makes a certain amount of sense, in that many people are perceiving this political spat as a head-to-head fight between the governor and the speaker.

Perhaps a direct battle between the two could be the key to trying to resolve the situation – although the fact that at least three-quarters of a 12-month fiscal year were allowed to pass without a budget in place means the collateral damage is severe.

There’s no way to truly repair the damage that has been done – just try to keep it from spreading any further than it already has. Although some entities have sustained permanent damage. That’s just the fact, Jack!

NATURALLY, THE STORY going about is how Rauner couldn’t reach the speaker. Just like on Election Night when the then-governor-elect said publicly he tried to talk to Madigan about bipartisan cooperation, but it really turned out he called the cell phone of a low-ranking Madigan aide who didn’t pick up the phone that night.

Officially, it seems that Madigan is on a vacation – a spring break, of sorts, on account of the fact that the Illinois House hasn’t been scheduled for session for the past several weeks. Why not take some time off; get away from all the nonsense –even if you’re a part of its cause!

I first heard about this call for a meeting Monday night. In the course of my duties for suburban newspapers, I happened to be at a suburban high school board meeting where the local board president told his colleagues the story – and cited it as a potential breakthrough.

Of course, the punchline to his humorous account was that Madigan didn’t get the phone call because he doesn’t carry a cellphone.

THERE ALSO WAS the observation made that the reason Rauner tried to reach out to Madigan was that he saw the results of Election Night – which a lot of political observers are trying to interpret as a rebuke of Rauner and acceptance of Madigan.

Personally, I think it’s a little overly simplistic to think in those terms.

The fact is that trying to campaign during an Election cycle by spinning an election as being all about Mike Madigan is next to impossible. The number of people who actually can vote for or against Madigan himself is small, and those people like his presence. Jason Gonzales never had a chance.

And the rest of us realize there are more important concerns to take into account when making a political pick.

AS FOR SAM McCann, he was serving the desires and needs of his constituents so that his voters were willing to overlook Rauner’s objections to him, in a way that Ken Dunkin was not serving his constituents – who were then more than willing to dump his keister by a 2-1 voter ratio.

So how will all this play out. Will that message Rauner allegedly left eventually get to Madigan? Will somebody call his vacation hotel? Or scrawl out a message to be left on his desk when he returns to work?

Would it really work if it were only the two of them locked in a room together? Perhaps if you cut off food and refused to let either one of them out until a budget deal was reached.

Or does it really make a difference any more if a budget is ever achieved for Fiscal ’16? You have to admit it would turn out to be rather stupid if, at some point at the end of May the two sides finally reached some sort of deal – only to have to do it all over again for Fiscal ’17, which is now only 99 days away.


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