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Rauner Makes Huge Mistake with Budget Address PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich MIller   
Sunday, 01 March 2015 05:50

A rookie mistake has led to some big problems.

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton both believed that Governor Bruce Rauner would ask to postpone the scheduled February 18 budget address.

The current fiscal year’s outlook was so incredibly dire that the veteran Democratic leaders figured that neophyte Rauner would want to first tackle that problem before moving on to the mess in the budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Rauner declined, declaring that a deadline was a deadline.

He should’ve asked for a delay.

Despite Promises, Rauner Presents a Booby-Trap Budget PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 22 February 2015 05:27

After he was elected governor but before he was sworn in to office, Bruce Rauner repeatedly lambasted Governor Pat Quinn and the legislative Democrats for passing a “booby trap” budget that was about to blow up in the state’s collective face.

Rauner was absolutely right. Last year’s budget was irresponsible and didn’t deal with the reality of the expiring income-tax hike. As a result, the state’s budget is in a terribly deep hole right now.

But did Governor Rauner really make all the “tough choices” necessary to get us out of that hole during his budget address, as he promised he would? Well, he sure proposed a lot of cuts. But he planted at least one major booby trap himself.

Rauner Flexing His Muscle – to Uncertain Ends PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 15 February 2015 05:10

More than a few Statehouse types have been wondering aloud for weeks what Governor Bruce Rauner is up to with his almost daily attacks on organized labor.

His people say that the governor feels “liberated” since the election to speak his mind about a topic that stirs great personal passion in him. He played up the issue during the Republican primary, then all but ran away from it in the general-election campaign, including just a few weeks before Election Day when he flatly denied that “right to work” or anything like that would be among his top priorities.

Yet there he is day after day, pounding away at unions, demanding right-to-work laws, vilifying public-employee unions as corrupt to the point of issuing an executive order barring the distribution of state-deducted employee “fair share” dues to public-worker unions such as AFSCME. The dues are paid by people who don’t want to pay full union dues.

Laughter at Rauner Signals Rough Waters PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 08 February 2015 13:12

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a governor openly and loudly laughed at on the House floor. At least not while he was present.

Governor Bruce Rauner was doing pretty well with his legislative audience during his first State of the State address last week, delivering strong applause lines with his refreshing calls for bipartisanship. He even thanked legislators “for your service,” and predicted they would do “great” things together. He warned them that he would say things they liked and didn’t like and urged them to see the “big picture” – which he claimed will “lift up all of the people we’ve been chosen to represent.”

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus were especially receptive to the governor’s attacks on labor-union apprenticeship programs. Rauner claimed about “80 percent of individuals in Illinois apprenticeship programs are white even though Caucasians make up fewer than 63 percent of our population,” and demanded that be addressed with legislation. Black and Latino legislators have tried for years with limited success to break those barriers, and no governor has ever so clearly sided with them.

Legislators erupted in loud applause when the governor proposed raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour. But when Rauner added “over seven years,” their laughter was even louder, and longer. Democrats appeared to realize that they might’ve fallen for a bait and switch, and it was mostly downhill from that point on.

Some 2016 Races Already Heating Up PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 01 February 2015 17:20

Illinois state Senator Daniel Biss appears to be the first Democrat to actively float his name for the 2016 special election for state comptroller.

The Evanston Democrat is known as a policy wonk around the Statehouse, but he’s also a prodigious fundraiser, ending the fourth-quarter reporting period with $721,000 in the bank.

The special-election law was passed by the General Assembly in early January – just weeks after the death of Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. Governor Pat Quinn signed it into law on his way out the door.

If the new law is upheld by the courts (which seems likely but not certain), the state’s appointed Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger will have to stand for election in a presidential year.

Since the days of President Bill Clinton, Republicans have been at a distinct disadvantage during presidential-election years. No Republican presidential candidate has won this state since 1988, when George H.W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis 51-49. Back then, Illinois was considered a “bellwether” state for presidential campaigns. No longer.

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