“On hot mic,
@GovRauner asks House GOP leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) why he didn’t carry the stack of budget docs out for him to sign. Durkin jokes that he didn’t know if that’d be a “perp walk.'”
That’s according to reporter Hanna Meisel, tweeting from Governor Rauner’s news conference yesterday where he was joined by General Assembly leadership from both parties after signing the new budget.
They all know. Republicans and Democrats alike.
They know the budget isn’t balanced, that it’s not “something Illinois can be proud of,” or that “congratulations are appropriate” or that any of the other platitudes they filled the media with are true. And they know that adding “there’s still work to do” and the like is meaningless.
Those who participated in yesterday’s Kumbaya performance know it would indeed be seen as a perp walk if the public knew the truth: This is another no-reforms budget that will plunge Illinois ever deeper into insolvency, as we’ve documented here ad infinitum.
Boasting about bipartisanship carried a special irony.
Most of yesterday’s celebrants hailed it as great victory of cooperation. Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) wore purple, she said, as a nod to bipartisan compromise. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) went further, saying the budget compromise represents a “new era” in Springfield and weakening power of legislative leaders in Springfield.
The irony is what the true consensus is among budget watchers left, center and right. They agree strongly on two thing: 1) the process that created the budget was a disgrace, and 2) the budget didn’t address the deep, underlying challenges the state faces. There’s no agreement on the solution, but the consensus on those two points by budget watchers was illustrated in a WTTW interview of representatives of the CTBA, The Civic Federation and Illinois Policy.
That’s why yesterday’s backslapping was so wrong. The message that accompanied the budget should have been just that: “Shame on us for producing a budget this way, and brace yourselves for the radical reforms Illinois needs, which we didn’t address.”
Instead, Illinois has gone backward, reverting to the don’t-scare-the-children strategy that has prevailed for years, resulting in nothing but delay, denial, extending and pretending.
It’s certainly true Democrats wouldn’t have permitted even a single reform no matter what Rauner or anybody else demanded, but that’s also part of what should have been the message. We’d at least, thereby, make some progress getting the public onboard for what’s needed.
The most honest thing we heard yesterday was Durkin’s fear of being labeled as a perp if the truth got out.
-Mark Glennon is founder and Executive Editor of Wirepoints.
Read more about Wirepoints’ take on Illinois’ budget: