Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The dueling Dem strategy on putting together a state budget. Or, do politicos of either party have a sense of shame?

It was intriguing to see the WTTW-TV news program “Chicago Tonight” earlier this week when they did a panel of state legislators (not the leaders) to get them to talk about state government’s inability for two years now to put together a state budget.
CULLERTON: Taking the fiscal lead?
State Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, tried to explain Monday the hardline stance of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, by saying the House speaker sees no point in going through the motions of passing a budget proposal if it is quite obvious that Gov. Bruce Rauner will immediately veto it.

THEN PUBLICLY PICK it apart in ways meant to bash Democratic Party political interests for not complying with the hardline, anti-organized labor vision he has for the state of Illinois.

If she is quoting Madigan accurately (and I have no reason to doubt she is), then it does make a certain amount of sense that the Illinois House this spring refused to even take up budget measures that were under consideration because the Illinois state Senate went ahead on their own to advance them.

So what should we make of the fact that the Senate Dems, under the leadership of President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, think they deserve praise for their effort?

Cullerton issued a statement on Tuesday saying the state’s financial problems could be resolved if only Rauner would urge Republicans in the Illinois House to support the measure he has already created.

“WE HELD SPENDING to the exact level (the governor) wanted, kept the tax rate that he asked for, cut $3 billion in spending and ultimately eliminated the nearly $5 billion deficit in his proposed budget,” Cullerton said.
MADIGAN: Sees no point to negotiation

“The Senate has done its work,” he said. “It’s up to Gov. Rauner and the Illinois House to finish the job.”

Well, to cite the old cliché expressing sarcasm, “Bully for you.”

As though the political world of Illinois would be a wonderful place if we’d only do what we’re told by John Cullerton. Maybe if this had occurred two years ago, it would be considered a credible effort. It won’t be now.

SO WE NOW have a split in attitudes between the Democratic leadership; one in which Madigan is willing to play hardball to counter the hardball tactics being used by the governor as a deliberate effort to pass a vision of “reform” that many of us would see as anything but.
RAUNER: No signs of compromising

As opposed to the vision of Cullerton, who thinks he can shame the governor into signing off on a budget because he wouldn’t want to be remembered as the governor who prolonged the state’s budget-less status any longer than necessary.

Which might be a logical way of thinking of things IF political people had any sense of shame. Yet most of them do not.

I think if Rauner truly cared about the criticism he has been taking and the fact that his public legacy is floating around in a pool of water that has developed at the bottom of a garbage dumpster, this situation would never have developed back in the spring of 2015.

YET RAUNER WAS a business-oriented guy who probably thinks that undermining organized labor’s influence over state government IS more important than the short-term problems caused by a lack of a budget. Except that the “short-term” has stretched out to two full years and shows every sign of extending into four – with the only end in sight being a drastic change in the partisan composition of Illinois state government following the November 2018 election cycle.
Where the budget stalemate (sadly) is likely to be resolved

So when Cullerton says, “the governor needs to sit down with House Republicans, come to agreement on this balanced budget and then help make it law,” I can’t help but snicker. It isn’t going to happen. It’s as absurd an image as that of Cullerton being able to give orders to Madigan about fiscal matters – or any other, for that matter.

What we have in Illinois is a political grudge match between the governor and House speaker, with both having entrenched themselves so firmly neither is capable of budging.

Regardless of which one actually winds up prevailing in the end, the ultimate loser is the Illinois public – which has to suffer knowing these are our allegedly best and brightest of minds at work doing “the peoples’ business.” No wonder most people use that phrase in a mocking tone.


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