Elections have consequences, and Tuesday’s vote was for change in Illinois.
When new officeholders are sworn in come January, Democrats will be in the driver’s seat. They will have supermajority control of the state House and Senate, and will control all statewide elected offices beginning in 2019, led by Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker.
Democrats will control the levers of power, but that does not give them ownership of Illinois government. The government still serves all the people, and the tax and regulatory burdens that government now imposes are driving some people and businesses out of state.
It will take Democrats and Republicans working together to solve this problem in the years ahead.
Republicans faced tough realities in this midterm election. President Donald Trump is unpopular here. At the top of the state ticket, Gov. Bruce Rauner trailed in the polls for months, and eventually lost by about 15 points and became the first governor in more than 40 years to be unseated after a single term.
Though voters had myriad reasons for voting as they did, there are several things for which they did not vote.
Few people went to the polls on Tuesday to vote for higher taxes for themselves. When Pritzker talks about raising income taxes on “the wealthy,” most of us assume he is talking about people like himself – now the wealthiest political officeholder in America, with a fortune of more than $3 billion and who spent a staggering $171 million on his campaign.
Pritzker was content to foster that assumption. He scrupulously avoided providing any information about who would pay more in taxes under a graduated tax plan, which will require amending the state constitution. We’re still waiting to see how many of us eventually will learn we are wealthy.
Any move to increase income taxes without shifting the school funding burden away from the property tax will make this Democratic dominance in Springfield short-lived. It’s the property tax burden that’s driving people out of Illinois; it must be reduced.
Few of us voted for state government to ignore the pension liability that continues to consume more of the state’s budget.
Few of us voted to abandon the cause of reform. In addition to property tax relief, concepts such as term limits for legislators and legislative leaders, and fair drawing of legislative maps are widely popular among voters in this state. They should be given an up-or-down vote in Springfield or an advisory vote at the ballot box. It is time to stop fighting these initiatives – let the people vote on them.
When 2019 begins, Pritzker and the party he leads indeed are in the driver’s seat in Springfield. It will be their prerogative to act on their agenda in the future. As Illinoisans, we will share in that future and so we hope for success for our state under his leadership.
But that future should be shaped by the good ideas of members of both parties. The election is over, and we all must work together to solve our state’s problems.