Nice Speech, Mr. Pritzker. What Now?

The media’s post-mortem on the election in Illinois is going true to its script. Frankly, I’m bored with that, and have my own observations I’d like to share.

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Pritzker gave a pretty good speech, making promises to all the necessary constituencies while failing to mention the one that matters most: the one which will have to pay the bill. I guess we’ll find out what he has in store for that constituency when he gives his budget address.

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In his speech, he said “We make no small plans.” He’s also on record as saying he’ll consider suggestions from Republicans on how to move forward out of our fiscal mess. Here are a few, offered free of charge. How about a private-sector examination of the operations of state government, or honest-to-goodness property tax reform or pension relief, all of which are Republican initiatives? Mr. Pritzker, our door is open.

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To the people in DuPage and South Suburban Cook County, who pay the highest property tax bills in the country, if you voted for Democrats in state and county races to send a message to Donald Trump, nice going. By doing so, you chose to let the fox in to guard the henhouse. You’re going to find, and I believe soon, that the people you elected on Tuesday will do nothing but increase your burden and then tell you that it’s someone else’s fault. Elections have consequences, and you will not be forgiven.

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To my own party, where do I begin? We lost this race for one reason and one reason only. We deserved it.

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We saw millions being thrown into our races in 2016 and thought that this was the wave of the future. In the span of two short years, we learned that one-person financing is a fickle thing and that the other side could play that game, bringing greater resources to the table. Money doesn’t talk, it swears.

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We saw a Governor who pissed away everything he ran on in 2014, and did it by negotiating against himself. Petrified by the thought of losing our funding, we didn’t do the right thing and take over the message. We stood idly by while he blamed Mike Madigan for his own failures and by extension, ours. While Nero fiddled, Rome burned, and all we did this cycle was send out thousands of ads with bad pictures of Mike Madigan on them, hoping they’d act as some kind of voodoo curse.

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We ignored the evidence of the demographic shifts that are going on in our own back yards. Instead of adapting ourselves to those shifts, we find ourselves in a cage match against a faction of our own party that is hell-bent on instituting a purity test for admission. Politics is the art of compromise, and if the Republican Party is going to get close to being relevant in this state, we need to broaden our appeal, not run behind ideological walls and pull the drawbridge up behind us. By broadening our appeal, we don’t need to sacrifice our principles, far from it. By articulating our principles within the framework of legislative proposals that affect peoples’ lives and without imposing judgment, we can make people see that what we have to offer is something better than what they get from the other side.

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Having retreated behind their respective tribal walls, both parties have created a vacuum in the great chasm which is the middle. Nature abhors a vacuum, and it will be filled. We have a golden opportunity to fill that vacuum if we’ll but just take the chance. But we can’t wait until the next election, when all we’ll get will be grenades launched at each other with bad photos of Mike Madigan and Donald Trump. We need to do it now.

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Illinois Desperately Needs Adult Supervision

In his weekly column published last Sunday, Rich Miller, publisher of CapitolFax.com wrote:

“I had written on my blog a few days earlier that if voters are looking for a check on J.B. Pritzker and Speaker Madigan and they can’t bring themselves to vote for Gov. Rauner, she [Erika Harold] might be a realistic option.”

With all due respect to Rich and to Ms. Harold, whom I wholeheartedly support, the real check on the excesses of Illinois’ government isn’t the office of Attorney General.

The real check on a Governor Pritzker (or a Governor Rauner, for that matter) and Speaker Madigan will come only if the Republicans can maintain or grow their numbers in the House.

As we enter the last week before the November election, it would be well to remember exactly what’s at stake for Illinois and who stands the best chance of assuring that there is at least one body in state government that stands against the worst of whatever happens, regardless of who’s elected Governor.

The Democrat in the race has shown himself to be nothing more than someone who says he’ll raise taxes on “the rich” (defined as anyone other than the group he happens to be pandering to at that particular time).  Have you heard him talk about using that new money to pay down our mountain of unpaid bills and pension debt? Hell, no. All we hear is promises to spend all that new money on programs and agencies that need housecleaning and responsible oversight before they get a dime of new money.

Then consider the raft of bills that Republicans were able to kill in the last session by denying them veto-proof majorities. I mean, do you want a state-mandated $15 per hour minimum wage? A government-run workers’ compensation company that will be funded by borrowing 10 million of your tax dollars? Making a resolution by a local government objecting to the state’s prevailing wage law a criminal offense?

All that stood between legislative sanity and those bills becoming law were House Republicans who drove down the vote for the minimum wage (61-53), upheld the veto of the workers’ comp bill (65-50) and the prevailing wage bill (70-42). Do you think a Governor Pritzker would veto any of those bills? Not likely.

Republicans in the House held the line on those and many other bills which would make Illinois an even bigger economic clown car than it is now. Without a majority, we won’t even be able to do that.

Republicans need to pick up nine seats in the House to claim the Speaker’s gavel. Otherwise, we won’t be able to stop the three bills referenced above, and you can be certain that they’ll be re-introduced in the next session, along with any number of other measures that will spring from the fevered minds of people who think that money grows on trees.

With the 2020 census coming up, nothing determines the composition of the House and Senate more than the electoral map, the boundaries of which are drawn by the General Assembly. If you don’t want Mike Madigan’s map being rubber-stamped by a Democratic Governor, this is reason enough to vote for a Republican-controlled House. The map is everything, because Illinois can’t survive another decade of undisputed Democratic control in Springfield.

No matter who’s elected Governor in 2018, this state is in trouble. We’ve endured nearly 4 years of dysfunction (actually, closer to 40), and there’s a strong likelihood that the next 4 won’t be any better, regardless of whether the next Governor is named Rauner or Pritzker.

Abraham Lincoln once said that “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” This campaign has been an object lesson in evasion. Regardless of who you vote for as Governor, please make sure that we end up with an adult in the room. Put Republicans in charge of the Illinois House.

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“Submitted Reports”: There’s No Such Thing as “Bad Press”?

Skillicorn Submitted ReportIn today’s Northwest Herald, Editor John Styf wrote an article describing how readers can submit news items for publication. However, he failed to tell us another way in which stories can find their way into the paper.

I’m speaking of the recent uptick in the number of stories that are printed under the byline of “Submitted Report”. These stories, written to look like news, are usually meant to describe the exploits of this or that public figure who has done something he/she wants the public to know about. It could be anything, but in most cases it consists of general chest-thumping.

Now it may be said that I’m simply engaging in sour grapes, since my name rarely appears in my county paper of record. It’s not for lack of trying. It’s not like I haven’t been submitting press releases to the Northwest Herald. For instance:

  • My appointment to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (July 17);
  • Legislation I’ve sponsored to deny pension benefits to teachers found to have sexually abused children (July 10);
  • Returning a check I received from the State for late payment of per-diem expenses (May 9);

I could go on, but you get the picture. To be honest, I don’t think the third item above rises to the level of news, but the first two should be of interest to people who’d like to know just what it is I do as State Representative. You’d think that the paper, having been given the press release and thus having been relieved of actually sending a reporter out to find out what’s going on, would appreciate it. I guess not.

I’ve asked multiple times what it takes to “submit” a “report” for publication, and have never received an answer. I guess they’re of the opinion that if I have to ask the price, I can’t afford it.

That’s fine, because the one thing I won’t do as a State Representative is spend money publishing self-flattering screeds under a fake byline and call it “news”.

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Jeanne, Don’t Be Remembered For That Label

The Army You HaveJeanne Ives’ primary campaign for Governor brought to light the anger that was just under the surface in the Republican base. Without her willingness to confront Governor Rauner over such things as signing the “Sanctuary State” bill and H.B. 40, he’d have gone into the November election assuming that the base would come out and support him no matter what. She lanced a boil that needed lancing, and Republicans statewide should be grateful. The Governor is now on notice that he can’t take the base for granted.

Heading toward November, it’s time to focus on what it means if there’s a change in the Governor’s office.  Among those things:

  • The Map. With the 2020 census coming up, nothing determines the composition of the General Assembly more than the electoral map. While the General Assembly is tasked with drawing the electoral boundaries, the Governor can veto the map that comes out of the legislature, forcing both parties to the table to negotiate on a more equal footing. Illinois can’t survive another decade of undisputed Democratic control in Springfield. If you don’t want Mike Madigan’s map being rubber-stamped by a Democratic Governor, this is reason enough to vote for Governor Rauner. The map is everything.
  • There have been a lot of anti-growth, anti-business and anti-taxpayer bills that have made it through the Legislature on less than veto-proof majorities. The Governor has shown a willingness to veto them. With a Democrat in the Governor’s office, we’re likely to end up with a Constitutional amendment to implement a progressive income tax and more legislation that will further drive businesses and productive citizens out of the State, legislation that a Democrat will sign.

Jeanne has said that she ran to hold Governor Rauner responsible for the policy decisions he’s made since 2015. Mission accomplished. But she’s also said that she won’t endorse the Governor for re-election. Her unwillingness to do so now will only make inevitable the very things she ran against in the primary. That’s not the type of legacy anyone should want to leave.

Every day that we move closer to the election, it’s becoming ever more obvious that this race is far from over, but in order to avoid the total meltdown of Illinois, we need to grow or at least maintain our numbers in the House and we need to retain the Governorship.

Jeanne, don’t leave your colleagues in the House facing that which you have within your power to help to avoid. Don’t leave the people of Illinois with a state government that will be hell-bent on leading us faster in our race to the bottom. If it’s your intention to carry on the fight beyond this election, do so by leaving something standing that’s worth fighting for.

You need to join the battle, and you can only do that by stepping onto the battlefield as it now exists. If you don’t, you run the risk of being remembered by the label that was pinned upon you during the campaign:

Madigan’s Favorite Republican.

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Betrayed

First it was the story of how the Chicago Public School system delayed and denied services to special education students, leading to the appointment of a state monitor to oversee CPS’s compliance with state and Federal law.

Now, in today’s Chicago Tribune, there’s a front page story that describes systematic sexual abuse of students by teachers and employees of CPS, abuse that was reportedly ignored or covered up by teachers, administrators and any number of others whose job it is to make sure that such things don’t happen. Read the entire article; it will turn your stomach.

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