Rauner puts some backers in tricky spot
Interesting little spot Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner has put some of his supporters in.
It started with his call to extend the state sales tax to some services to raise about $600 million in revenue. This idea has floated around for a long time and never gained any real traction. But it is absolute anathema to many business groups that would normally be considered locks to support the Republican candidate for governor.
Then the real shocker hit. Rauner confirmed that he would negotiate with the General Assembly over the fate of the income tax increase. Yes, he still wants to phase it out over 4 years. For individuals, that would mean dropping the current rate from 5 percent to 3 percent.
However, Rauner indicated the rate might not necessarily drop to 3.75 percent on Jan. 1, as it is now scheduled. He'd discuss that with the Legislature, which most likely will still be controlled by Democrats even if Rauner is elected governor.
The thing is, most Republicans have taken the position that anything other than a 3.75 percent personal income tax rate beginning Jan. 1 is a tax increase. That's how they make the charge that Gov. Pat Quinn wants to raise taxes – even though he wants to keep the tax hike, and consequently the current tax rates, in place.
So if Rauner will consider something other than 3.75 percent on Jan. 1, that would seem to mean he also wants to raise taxes, even without his plan to tax some services that are not now taxed.
More and more, it's getting harder to tell who is going to support which candidate.
Quinn pushed for pension reform, which alienated some of his labor support, a traditional base for a Democrat.
Now Rauner is espousing some ideas on taxes that presumably would alienate some traditional GOP supporters.
Maybe they should both run as independents and just forget about party labels.
Dithering on fracking
On a somewhat related note, business and labor interests held a news conference last week to complain about how long it's taking hydraulic fracturing (better known as fracking) to get going in Illinois.
A law was passed a year ago to pave the way for fracking here. The law contained a lot of regulations, but as with most complex laws, the language in the bill has to be fleshed out with rules developed by state agencies. The business and labor interests believe the Department of Natural Resources is dragging its feet in getting those rules in place so fracking can begin.
Obviously, it's rare when business and labor team up on an issue. What makes this one even odder is election-year politics. Labor interests at the news conference were represented by the Illinois AFL-CIO, which has endorsed Quinn for re-election.
One of the business groups at the news conference was the Illinois Manufacturers' Association. It has endorsed Rauner.
'Hang out with the governor'
Several emails arrived last week promoting a contest run by Quinn's campaign. (The contest is over now, so you can relax).
Donate $5 or more to Quinn's campaign and you could win two tickets to watch a Chicago White Sox game with the governor. Quinn has season tickets to the Sox. They're in the upper deck, befitting a populist governor.
“It's not every day that you get a chance to hang out with the governor of your state over a hot dog and a ball game,” said one of the pitches.
Nothing personal against Quinn, but spending 3 hours at a ball game with a politician – any politician – seems like a hefty price to pay for a couple of free tickets.
Still, wouldn't it be a hoot if another noted White Sox fan – House Speaker Michael Madigan – entered the contest and won the tickets?