EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – FEBRUARY 11, 2009
By Rich Trzupek
Actually, you don’t even need magic to figure out what the future holds for the once mighty state of Illinois any more. The course from here is pretty obvious.
The new governor, Pat Quinn has a reputation for being something of a goofball, but he appears to be an honest goofball, and for that we should all be grateful. He also has a reputation for doing the right thing, as he sees it, and the right thing that he and the General Assembly will agree upon is, unfortunately, an income tax hike.
The state’s budget deficit is so profound that there really isn’t any other choice. Well, not outside of program cuts, but let’s be serious. No doubt that Quinn and our elected representatives will through out a few bones in the name of “belt tightening”, but no one – and particularly no Democrat – is going to dismantle the massive entitlement programs that have been established.
The only alternative will be figure out how to pay for everything and, being an honest fellow, Quinn won’t keep writing bad checks and stealing money from one program to fund another, as a certain predecessor did on a routine basis. That leaves a tax hike, and an income tax hike appears to be the likely alternative.
How much? Expect that the state income tax rate will go up from three per cent to four or five per cent. I’m betting on five, but we’ll see.
There is a word for governors who raise taxes. That word is “unelectable”, and – even if voters somehow gave Quinn a break (which they won’t) – he has too many well-healed opponents to win a primary anyway.
The tax hike will be described as a two per cent hike, which it is, but it’s also a sixty seven increase in the state’s income tax rate. For somebody making $50,000 per year, that’s an extra $1,000 bucks heading toward the Springfield every year. That kind of hit is going to leave a mark.
So, come next election, Illinois is going to be full of a lot of angry voters. They might be even more angry than they were last November, if that’s possible. Still, this is Illinois, and it will be difficult for the majority of voters to express that anger by casting a vote toward the alternative party, which would be the Republican Party, in case you forgot that they still exist in our state.
No, the Democrats will be looking for a “reform” candidate (not withstanding that the term “Illinois reform Democrat” is the very definition of an oxymoron). That candidate, barring some unforeseen catastrophe, will be Lisa Madigan.
The attorney general has already accumulated over $3 million in her war chest, according to her last filing with the state Board of Elections. Haven’t checked yet, but I’m guessing that’s at least $2,999,999 more than any potential Republican candidate.
Madigan is in one of the best positions to distance herself from the antics of a former Illinois governor whom shall remain nameless, but who’s name rhymes with Mod Slugoiveyabitch. Well, almost.
After all, wasn’t it Madigan whom courageously filed a motion with the Illinois Supreme Court to have the ex-guv declared unable to perform his duties? Our hero!
Of course, if you talk to competent attorneys they’ll tell you that her motion didn’t stand a chance of hell of succeeding. The old guv was able to perform his duties, just not very well, which is a different thing entirely. The Supremos, not surprisingly, rejected Madigan’s petition without comment.
Then you have Lisa’s dad, whom conveniently serves as Speaker of the House, which is a position that is conveniently in place to delay things like impeachment votes, until it’s convenient for his daughter to nab a few headlines by filing a pointless motion that, come next election, we can be sure will be hailed as “proof” of how she valiantly attempted to get rid of the (alleged) criminal who was occasionally stayed in the Executive Mansion.
The Republicans, in the mean time, will consider a qualified, personable candidate for Governor – Matt Murphy springs to mind – who might actually know what he’s doing, but, Illinois being Illinois, we’ll end up nominating another mope whom will get pounded at the polls instead.
And this will happen, in part, because everything will still be George Bush’s fault. The state’s broke? Bush spent too much on the war! We don’t have jobs? Bush ruined the economy! You know the song.
Never mind that the state received as much federal highway money as ever; the Governor just couldn’t be bothered with capital bills for infrastructure. Never mind that Illinois economy was already the weakest of any Midwestern state, long before the current recession. Never mind that the ex-guv misappropriated funds, created spending programs for which there was no revenue and generally stuck his head in the sand up to his shoulders anytime somebody called him on it. It is, was, and ever shall be “Bush’s fault”.
Which means, dear readers, next election hence in Illinois, we’ll have more of the same. Oh sure, we’ll have wonderful speeches, and a bunch of new ethics laws and a whole pile of promises. But this is Illinois folks. Nothing ever changes.
And nothing ever will.