Thursday, November 10, 2016

Can Illinois pols learn to play nice?

Twas a wonderful time this week for Democratic Party partisans in Illinois.

MADIGAN: Got 98 percent of what he wanted
Not only did they take some significant posts away from Republicans who already didn’t have much (a U.S. Senate seat, Illinois comptroller and a congressional post in the northwest suburbs), they managed to minimize the political gains that Gov. Bruce Rauner tried to make.

YES, IT’S TRUE that the veto-proof majority that theoretically gave Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, the ability to slap the governor about silly any time he saw fit is no more.

But with 68 legislators (out of 118) now being solid Democrat and the three who are no more being legislators who faced circumstances that often made them unreliable votes for anything Madigan desired, I’d say “Mr. Speaker” now has a more rigid grip over the people in his caucus.

It doesn’t exactly sound like a loss to me.

Although I’m sure that to the political mentality that thinks one in charge can never have too much influence, it might sound like a gain for Republicans.

BUT FOR THE millions of dollars that were spent by Rauner, once a venture capitalist, out of his personal wealth and the personal money of his business-oriented friends, I’d say that gaining three lone House seats and still being on the short end of a 68-50 split ain’t all that much!

When combined with the losses in the D.C. delegation from Illinois and the state comptroller, I can’t help but think that Bruce Rauner is going to be a very lonely individual on the Statehouse Scene – one who will think the era of ’95-96 when Republicans actually dominated in Springfield was somehow something imagined.

And my guess is that Democrats, led by Madigan and state Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, will be willing to go out of their way to portray the governor as weak and ineffectual – just some sort of ol’ crank who can’t get with the program that exists in Illinois.
RAUNER: Can he and Mr. Speaker play nice?

At least until the 2018 election cycle (do we really want to have to think about that already?), when Rauner will have to come up for re-election – unless, by chance, he gets so frustrated with next year’s legislative activity that he decides to give up and retire.

FAT CHANCE OF anything even close to that happening! Which means that the amount of activity we’re likely to get from state government is going to equal the level of nothingness we got during the past two years.

So what should we make of the statement that Rauner issued Wednesday morning – the one that talked about bipartisan cooperation and gave lip service to the notion of political people working together.

“The people of Illinois deserve prompt, bi-partisan action to solve problems and get good things done – to make Illinois more competitive so we can be more compassionate – to enact truly balanced budgets along with reforms that grow more jobs and protect taxpayers.”

It sounds nice. It would be nice to believe that it could happen.

YET EXCUSE ME for being skeptical. Nobody who spends as many millions as Rauner did to try to gain more influence is going to want cooperation – unless by that you mean having the opposition back down and do what he wants them to do.

Our situation in Springfield, which will get worse come January because the interim budget that got passed back in June only runs through Dec. 31., is one in which people would have to decide how much they really want to work together.

Instead, we have a situation where they have spent the past several months keeping each other apart. I’m also sure the fact that the few legislative gains made by Republicans came out of Southern Illinois will only enhance the regional tensions that already exist.

Which may make Dems all-the-more rigid if they wind up sensing this is an urban vs. rural battle in which they have to protect their homeland interests above all else. It’s going to get ugly before it gets nicer.


No comments: