I spy with my Illinois eye.
Liberal Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is losing downstate voters…and their representatives. Sunday’s defection of 15 Republicans who voted for an end to Illinois’ budget impasse and AGAINST Boss Rauner’s wishes tells the tale. Illinois is still at risk of a credit downgrade to junk status if Rauner and Illinois officials cannot agree to a budget.
Proof Rauner is losing Downstate
Here’s the proof of Rauner’s weakness: The red “X” marks represent Republicans outside of Metro Chicago who voted FOR Gov. Rauner against the tax increase that will continue the budget impasse. The green check marks represent Republicans outside of Metro Chicago who voted AGAINST Gov. Rauner and for the tax increase that will end the budget impasse. The green line represents the I-74 divide: Downstate versus Gov. Rauner.
Another Republican in the leadership resigns
And now another Republican leader has announced their retirement. The resignation letter from Chad Hays should be read by all.
“We’re in a state that in the fiscal year that ended two days ago spent $40 billion on less than $32 billion of revenue. There’s nothing Republican about that,” Hays said. “We have $15 billion in back bills. I’ve been to a lot of Republican events in my life, and I’ve never, ever been in a roomful of Republicans who said, ‘My philosophy on paying bills is to stiff the vendor.'”
Hays said the threat of seeing the state’s credit rating plunge to junk-bond status, plus almost $15 billion in unpaid bills, were factors that influenced his vote for a tax increase.
“This isn’t easy. The negotiations took place over three years of spring sessions. I stood tough for a long, long time, but we’re about to shut down road projects, and we’re accruing interest on back bills at a rate that is staggering,” he said. “This isn’t something that I’ve ever done before, but there comes a time when you have to move forward.”
Hays pointed to a changing political climate in Springfield as a contributing factor of his upcoming exit from State politics. “The functionality of the Illinois General Assembly today is simply untenable and counterproductive,” said Hays. “Legislators who care deeply and have the courage of their convictions and the intestinal fortitude to do what is right regardless of consequences are increasingly silenced. I believe we are in serious jeopardy of independent thought being a relic in our public discourse.”
“Our State faces financial calamity due to years of spending well beyond its means and the refusal of current leaders to put petty, partisan differences aside for the better good,” Hays said. “The current dislike and distrust between the Governor and the Speaker has paralyzed government in Illinois. Ego, money and power eclipse the desire of well-meaning and honest public servants, and blame, press conferences and talking points have replaced governing. Sadly, voices of moderation and reason are increasingly elbowed out by well-financed fringe elements.” “
Republicans who broke with Rauner explain their votes
Rep. Terri Bryant of Murphysboro, began crying during her speech as she explained her yes vote.
“We must have a balanced budget, and if that means that we must increase taxes right now to do it, I, like one of my other colleagues, know I’m probably going to get primaried on this,” she said, referring to the possibility of losing her seat in the next primary election.
“There are a couple of organizations in the state that are extremely far right, and their preference is to burn the place down and then build it back up again, and they are never going to think it’s ok to vote for a tax increase. “
Or Chad Meier.
“As your Representative I was left with two bad choices and only two bad choices. I had to pick the least bad of the two choices. I chose to save the state first and continue to fight for reforms. The other option was unthinkable, and irresponsible. To allow the state to fail is not an option. If I voted to allow the state to fail, the damage would take years if not decades for our state to recover.”
“By voting today we’re protecting the disabled and senior citizens who are on Medicaid. We’re providing meals to senior citizens. We’re ensuring the public schools open on time. We’re ensuring necessary funds to improving infrastructure. We’re providing our local communities the money that they’re owed. We’re saving Western Illinois University and our local community colleges. We are ensuring the State of Illinois has a balanced budget.”
I was sent to Springfield to fix our problems, not to make them worse. My vote today was to keep the State of Illinois out of financial ruin. Nobody wants to take hard votes, but families in West-Central Illinois sent me here to get our State back on track.
Or watch the moving speech given by Mike Unes on the floor of the House before the vote –
….”Both sides have extreme fringe groups who don’t always tell the truth.”
…..”For me today, right here, right now, this is the sword I’m willing to die on and if this costs me my seat then so be it.”
—“I urge you to vote yes to put this insanity behind us and avoid becoming the first state in the United States to go into junk bond status.”
Trading one political boss for another is not progress
Both parties are at fault. Real Republicans don’t like House Speaker Mike Madigan who uses his control over the rules committee to silence the Republican minority. They know that Speaker of the House Mike Madigan maintains his power in the House by threats to primary Democratic representatives who vote the wrong way. He has the money to back it up. Republicans see the huge donations from small groups of people with their own interests at heart backing Speaker Madigan. This is why the Democratic party in Illinois is seen as corrupt by Republicans.
However the rules today that are used like a hammer on Republicans were originally put in place by Republicans. Back in the 1990’s when Republicans briefly controlled the House of Representatives the rules were put in place to silence the Democratic minority. And now we’re the minority.
The way to build the Republican party is not to copy the Democratic machine. It’s not enough to create a Republican party with a Republican boss that is stronger than Mike Madigan. This is just replacing one political boss with another. This is just changing which small group of people with their own interest at heart is pulling the strings.
This is not progress.
This is not democracy.
This will not fix what is broken and corrupt about Illinois politics.
Rauner doesn’t really care about the tax hike but he does care about the “optics”
Real GOP Illinois believes that Rauner is apathetic on whether or not there is a tax increase and he is staging his tax hike “opposition” to improve the optics of his re-election campaign with the GOP base and voters, in general.
The reality is that Rauner has repeatedly broken his campaign promises to voters and has failed to put an end to cronyism, even within his own Administration and across state agencies he controls. Governor Rauner, who has tripled his income since becoming Governor, earns a fortune from Illinois pension funds controlled by his firm, GTCR, while other state vendors are left unpaid. The amount Rauner’s firm earns from Illinois pension funds has never been disclosed to Illinois voters.
The Trump Versus Rauner Divide
This is not the first time Downstate has broken with liberal Republican Governor Rauner. Unlike Rauner, Downstate voters supported Donald Trump by overwhelming margins in the 2016 elections. According to Politico, Trump picked up wins in 91 of Illinois’ 102 counties. Trump picked up every Southern Illinois county with the exception of Jackson County, where the brash billionaire lost by a scant 200 votes.
Trump’s numbers in Illinois were HUGE.
Why Rauner is in a pickle with Downstate voters
Rauner desperately needs Trump’s Downstate votes to win re-election in 2018.
In 2014, Rauner won election by winning close votes in 101 of Illinois’ 102 counties. With 99.54% of the ballots tallied, Rauner captured 50.73% (1,757,569) of the vote. Low voter turnout in Cook County also crippled Quinn who received 45.89% (1,589,993). Libertarian Chad Grimm had 3.38% (117,060). Rauner spent $66 million, including $25 million of personal funds, to win the race against the unpopular Quinn – which calculates to about $37.55 per vote.
Rauner may not be able to rely on a depressed Cook County vote or the “anybody but Quinn” vote in 2018. Downstate voters are key to his victory and, so far, they’re not happy with the anti-Trump Rauner who is willing to let Illinois be ruined by being blocked from the bond market or his crony antics.
Director contributed to this report.