You know how I like to chide the Democrats for having no plan whatsoever? But after reading Illinois GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner’s highly touted fiscal proposition supposedly set to save us from our insolvent selves, all I can say is, having no absolutely no idea not be such a bad thing.
Once again, we’ll only be covering the highlights here because everyone else has already delved into Rauner’s recent details. And the one who did it best was Tribune Reporter Rick Pearson. You can read his take right here.
If you’ll permit me to briefly go off on one of my infamous tangents, Pearson is a dying breed. He’s one of the last reporters who understands that, while he’s not supposed to create the story, you don’t want to shy away from it either.
He doesn’t bait the folks he covers just because he can, he gets right to the point, he understands you can have relationships with politicians without sacrificing your credibility, and he knows that objectivity, a moving target, is only good up to a point.
If more reporters took a cue from Pearson (and newspapers made an effort to get those Craigslist classifieds back), newspapers might not be facing their inevitable slow slide into oblivion.
But back to the issue at hand.
Rauner’s budget “plan” includes but is not nearly limited to:
1. No contingency for $3 billion in lost revenue when the state’s “temporary” income tax hike expires. Call me crazy, but I thought this kind of fairy tale was relegated to the Democrats.
2. Saving $60 million by moving employee pensions into a 401k style defined contribution plan despite the fact that it’s utterly unconstitutional to do so. Sure, you can change that sainted document, but what I want to know is, how does Rauner plan on getting that three-fifths vote? Maybe he’s gonna buy out Mike Madigan’s contract?
3. Forgoing the governor’s salary and pension while he’s in office. Be still my beating heart! That’ll save us about $225,000 a year. I’d make a joke about your grandmother finally being able to afford that heart operation, but that paltry sum wouldn’t even cover that.
4. A half a billion dollars slashed from the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (the “bureaucracy”) with absolutely no detail on how that might be done.
5. Merging the Comptroller and Treasurer to save another $12 million, but that pesky State Constitution puts the kibosh on that one too!
6. And my all-time BR favorite, with three caged barnyard hens prominently on display (there goes the Whole Foods vote), saving 100 large by not flying some endangered prairie chickens to Kansas.
As Quinn’s folks quickly pointed out, it’s hunters’ fees and federal funding that foot that bill, not the taxpayer. The only thing that could’ve made that press conference better is if some smartass had the nerve to say, “As God is my witness, I thought chickens could fly.”
When Pearson and others pressed him on this particular flight of fiscal fancy, mistaking a tailwind for talent, Rauner’s detailed response was, “I’ve been successful at everything I’ve ever done.”
Hey Bruce! How’s that declaring bankruptcy to get out from under a billion dollars in nursing home neglect liability workin’ out for ya? Apparently “success” means different things to different people.
Please, please, please! I beg my fellow Republicans to, along those very same lines, stop falling for the “conservative” flavor du jour just because you blatantly believe that success has to happen overnight! C’mon! Real progress always comes in inches.
Illinois Democrats didn’t stage some sort of coup. They took over the state with a big picture plan that consisted of a thousand separate steps.
Take your pick! Rutherford, Dillard, or even Bill Brady, would have had a much better shot at beating Quinn. But, once again, Republican voters couldn’t be content with the notion of taking the next logical step. They don’t understand that some folks aren’t electable. They had to go for it all and now they’re gonna end up with nothing.
Is it really surprising that an aspiring politician came up with a two bananas short of a bunch plan that makes it difficult to pin him down? Nope! But what is surprising is Bruce Rauner thought he could get away with it.
Who’d a thunk having a plan could possibly be worse than having none at all.