While everyone believes Illinois can and should do better, Governor Bruce Rauner is learning that local leaders aren’t willing to throw their own community’s citizens under his bus to further the governor’s vendetta against the middle class and unions.
And he could get a similar message from state representatives this week.
Elected local leaders believe the Rauner Turnaround Agenda, with its “empowerment (right to work) zones” is aimed at addressing a non-existent problem (unions are all-powerful) while it ignores the state’s most significant actual problem (insufficient revenue to pay for programs and services our citizens want and need).
It’s safe to assume the governor expected the intimidation tactics he used so successfully in private business would let him get his way in state matters once he became Illinois’ chief executive. He anticipated a series of small government wins votes of support for his agenda would generate support and pave the way for a vote in the General Assembly.
That’s why he:
- Made sure the income tax expired, ensuring the state would have billions of dollars less to provide services.
- Proposed cutting state payments to municipalities in order to scare local governments into passing his agenda.
- Slashed funding for programs that help autistic children, senior citizens and others who rely on their government to scare the most vulnerable into supporting his attack in the middle class.
In essence he was telling the public, “We can’t fund those needed programs until we clamp down on unions,” assuming no one would care that one has nothing to do with the other.
It’s a cynical strategy epitomized by this classic magazine cover.
Of course, the National Lampoon was a satirical magazine.
Governor Rauner isn’t joking. But if he’s paying attention, he’s noticed that his agenda is not gaining in popularity.
Speaker Madigan has tired of watching Rauner try to move his agenda one village at a time. To get the governor to focus on reality, the Speaker has scheduled a House vote on the “empowerment zone” concept for Thursday.
Given that the idea has been rejected most places it has been proposed, the fact that it is probably illegal and the introduction of strong evidence that it would damage the state’s economy, this week’s vote could turn out badly for the governor, though it won’t get fewer yes votes than the Rauner budget.
That would be mathematically impossible.