Thursday, May 31, 2018

What’s more important to Illinois govt.; a state budget or partisan politics?

I’d like to be wrong.

I’d like to be dismissed as being overly cynical.

RAUNER: How badly does he need a budget?
I’D BE VERY happy if, by the time you read this commentary, Illinois government has a tentative budget for the state’s upcoming fiscal year.

But the decades of time I have spent writing about the workings of our government officials bring me to the conclusion that I’m not going to believe we will have a budget for the 2019 fiscal year (which begins July 1) until I actually see evidence that the governor has put his “Bruce Rauner” on the bottom line and signed it into law.

Not even the reports I have been reading saying that officials could start off the process of approving a budget late Wednesday, which could result in something getting final legislative approval on Thursday, ease my skepticism.

There’s just too many ways that the talks taking place thus far can be thrown all out of whack, and not just because of the details that will come up in any legitimate spending proposal.

WHAT’S ULTIMATELY GOING to decide whether a budget can be put together is the degree to which ALL officials decide they’re willing to engage in, what some people cynically call, “the people’s business.”

MADIGAN: Will a minion thwart a budget?
The fact is that IF government officials in Illinois manage to put together a budget for Fiscal ’19, it would be the first time they’ve been able to do so in years. As in dating back to the days of Pat Quinn as governor.

Which isn’t really any testament to the political abilities of Quinn himself. It’s more a matter of the degree to which Gov. Rauner has placed his political agenda (a desire to undermine the influence of organized labor within state government) above the daily operations of Illinois.

If Rauner can’t get a budget in place for state government prior to the actual beginning of the fiscal year (which many, many governors have managed to do – even many Republican officials who had to deal with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago), then he literally will become the governor who never was able to do a budget during his gubernatorial term.
QUINN: At least he passed budgets

THAT’S EXACTLY THE kind of “talking point” that would sway voters into thinking this Rauner guy is too inept to be worthy of a new term.

I understand that part of the reason we may get a budget agreement this time around is because Republicans are loosening up any opposition they might usually have. They want a budget, over all.

Yet it wouldn’t shock me if there are at least a few legislators of the Democratic political persuasion who would love for the Rauner campaign to have to seek re-election as an inept governor who couldn’t even handle a “basic” task as budgeting the state’s monies.

They may decide that such an “issue” is more important than another year of financial problems. A petty (and craven) way of thinking of things, yet it is one that political people of all persuasions are capable of thinking.

NOT THAT I’M saying I think Rauner is giving up on any of his principles. If he does manage to get re-elected come Nov. 6, I suspect he’ll become even more hard-headed in a second term than he ever was in a first.

Consider his new digital ad, the 43-second spot where he touts his desire to do a rebuild of Illinois similar to the idea that the Chicago Cubs turned themselves from a historically-pathetic joke of a baseball franchise into a championship ball club back in 2016.

The way Rauner puts it, the Cubs’ rebuild took 7 years, and he claims giving him another term in office would ensure he has seven years to rebuild Illinois (it probably would take much longer, but that’s a point for debate in a future commentary).

A part of me thinks this ad is Rauner’s backup plan, in the event that something comes up and the Illinois General Assembly’s spring session ends Thursday night (the deadline) without a budget on its way to the governor’s desk for review. A short-sighted strategy in that it manages to offend the sensibilities of the more rational amongst us in Illinois who prefer the White Sox or St. Louis Cardinals.


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