"We should have billions of dollars every year as part of our budget process ... [to] maintain and expand our infrastructure," Bruce Rauner said last week, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Rauner has been doing his best to woo the road builders all year, and he was speaking to the Illinois Farm Bureau, which has lots of members who rely on roads and bridges to get their goods to market. So I understand the practical politics of his bold promise.

But this stuff costs money. Lots and lots and lots of money. And infrastructure is only his second priority. His top priority is education funding; he wants to spend even more money on schools.

Yet Rauner says he wants to slash the state's income-tax rate. Can he really do all that with lower revenues?

Some recent Chicago Tribune poll results appear to indicate that support for raising the minimum wage in the state's largest city may be enough to increase voter turnout for a non-binding November ballot referendum.

The poll found that 84 percent of registered Chicago voters support a city-task-force recommendation to increase the minimum wage to $13 per hour over the next three years. According to the poll, 78 percent of whites and 92 percent of African Americans and even 71 percent of Chicagoans making more than $100,000 a year back the plan.

Democrats have been hoping to use the referendum - which asks about raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour - as a tool to help spur turnout in what is rapidly developing into a big Republican year. And with the Tribune's numbers backing a much higher minimum wage, it does seem likely that the issue can be effective, particularly among African Americans. Support above 70 to 80 percent is generally seen as having a ballot impact. Get above 90 and it's sure to drive votes. Then again, the comparatively "stingy" state-ballot proposal, when compared to the Chicago proposal, might garner less enthusiasm.

"This morning," 1,063 respondents were told the evening of July 17 during a Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll, "Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner released an economic plan for Illinois.

"That plan calls for a freeze on property taxes and rolling back the 2010 tax increase. It also implements a new tax on services, such as advertising, legal services, and mini-storage centers. We'd like to know whether this type of plan would make you more likely or less likely to vote for him."

Rauner had certainly tested his service-tax proposal backward and forward before presenting it to the public last week, so I figured it had to poll fairly well. It did.

The poll found that 53 percent said they'd be more likely to vote for Rauner, while just 32 percent said they'd be less likely to vote for him and 15 percent said it made no difference.

A new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll found Republican Bruce Rauner leading Democratic Governor Pat Quinn 51 to 39 percent. That's pretty much the same margin the pollster found for another client a month ago.

The poll of 940 likely voters was taken July 8 and has a margin of error of 3.2 percent. Thirty percent of the calls were made to mobile phones.

Quinn has repeatedly blasted Rauner for using complicated loopholes to avoid some taxes. I wanted to test the issue.

"Republican Bruce Rauner's tax returns for 2010 and 2011 show that despite making around $55 million, he was not required to pay Social Security or Medicare taxes," respondents were told.

Sixty percent said that made them less likely to vote for Rauner, 20 percent said it made no difference, and another 20 percent said it made them more likely to vote for the candidate.

On the bright side, you could argue that the budget passed last week by the General Assembly will lead to the largest tax cut in Illinois history come January, when the 2011 income-tax increase partially expires on schedule.

But that's about the only bright side. And, really, pretty much nobody expects that some sort of tax hike will be avoided after the election, no matter who wins in November.

A solid week of horribly negative media coverage of Bruce Rauner was apparently outweighed by lots and lots of television ads, because his numbers are still rising.

A new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll found that Rauner's lead increased since late November in the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

The poll of 1,139 likely Republican-primary voters taken January 14 found Rauner getting 34 percent of the vote, with state Senator Bill Brady at 17 percent, Treasurer Dan Rutherford at 15 percent, and state Senator Kirk Dillard bringing up the rear at 9 percent.

A We Ask America poll taken November 26 - after Rauner launched his holiday-season TV-ad blitz - showed Rauner with 26 percent, Brady with 18 percent, Rutherford with 17 percent, and Dillard with 10 percent. Those numbers echoed a Public Policy Polling survey taken just days before, which had Rauner leading with 24 percent.

So, essentially, the rest of the pack hasn't moved at all, while Rauner has added eight points to his lead. Last week's poll had a margin of error of 2.9 percent.

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