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Budget picture clear as mud

House hasn’t squared income with spending

Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – With just [a few] days left before the scheduled adjournment of the General Assembly, it’s all becoming clear.

House Democrats voted to pass a budget that spends nearly $38 billion and avoids cuts to state programs. However, they are also fiscal conservatives, so most of them refuse to extend the taxes needed to pay for all of that spending.

Since they won’t support the revenue, those same Democrats were given a chance to vote for a $34 billion budget that doesn’t require extending the temporary tax increase.

However, it cut state spending because it’s usually a bad idea to spend money you don’t have. Alas, the Democrats wanted even less to do with that than they did with the tax extension. 

(No, we’re not including the Republicans in this, because it appears they don’t want anything to do with anything in terms of the budget.)

In summary, the Democrats don’t want to cut the budget, and they don’t want to raise revenue, and they expect to have a budget finished in [a few] days.

OK, so it isn’t so clear after all.

No hard choices

And then there was the No Hard Choices Caucus.

That would include lawmakers who voted for the big spending plan, won’t vote to extend the income tax increase to pay for it, and also voted against the spending cuts that would result in a balanced budget with the tax hike revenue gone.

No doubt their campaign brochures this fall will be a riot as they explain how they voted to increase funding for stuff like education, fought painful budget cuts to human services, and all the while bravely held the line on taxes.

Hopefully they don’t do it all in the same brochure, or the thing might self-combust.

Quotable quote

“People are leaving because they’re looking at the prospect of Rauner as the governor.”

– House Speaker Michael Madigan, responding to a statement from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner that people are leaving Illinois because of high taxes.

Wardrobe issue?

Most overrated folderol of the week was Rauner (gasp) shaking hands with a motorcycle enthusiast who had a Confederate flag sewn on his jacket.

It was part of a Chicago television profile of Rauner. It showed Rauner, a motorcycle rider, at a meeting of ABATE, the group that lobbies on behalf of motorcycle riders.

At one point, he is seen shaking the hand and slapping the arm of a member who has the Confederate flag on his jacket sleeve.

Obviously, then, Rauner endorses the Confederacy and all it stood for. Or so implied the Quinn campaign and other top Democrats who immediately demanded Rauner apologize for shaking the hand of someone with a Confederate flag on his jacket.

Still, this provides a valuable lesson for all political candidates. When someone sticks out a hand to shake yours, absolutely do not grasp it until you have conducted a thorough search of the wardrobe to ensure it does not contain any symbols that are deemed offensive.

Less pep, more

pot shots in talk

The Senate won the House-Senate softball game this year, even though senators didn’t seem to quite get the concept of team unity.

Former Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago, would usually deliver a rousing pep talk before the game to get the senators wound up for the contest.

It was something along the line of, Let’s all work together to beat the House.

Without Hendon, this year’s “pep talk” degenerated into some senators taking mild pot shots at each other. It was topped by Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, telling Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, “If you play this time, make sure you walk off the field instead of being carried off.”

Murphy suffered a knee injury in last year’s game and had to be carted to the hospital in an ambulance.

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