This afternoon I listened to Gov. Pat Quinn’s address on Illinois’s budget. I didn’t catch all of it but I caught most of it. If I had been expecting a green eyeshades-type speech, full of numbers and detail, I would have been disappointed. It was a stump speech.
Even as a stump speech it was a bit disappointing. I now know that Gov. Quinn is in favor of public education, infrastructure spending, and making the income tax hike of a few years ago permanent. I also know that he’s opposed to making services subject to the sales tax and Illinois’s excessive dependence on real estate tax. Beyond that there just wasn’t much there there.
Conspicuous by its absence was any mention of how much he wanted to spend (on anything) or how much revenue would be needed.
However, as Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw) said, it ain’t what you don’t know that’ll hurt you but what you do know that just ain’t so. The disinformation and misinformation in the governor’s speech was abundant.
For example, despite the governor’s frequent touting of Illinois’s pension reform most of the job is left to be done. An independent review of the pension reform measure found that its impact on Illinois’s public pension problem was negligible.
He also failed to mention that real estate taxes are the primary source of revenue for local governments and most of the real estate tax is securely in their hands (Illinois has more independently taxing institutions than any other state in the union). Whatever the state might do in this area will have practically no effectd. From the governor’s remarks you might conclude that education in Illinois was an accomplishment on which he could run proudly. The reality is that Illinois is last among the states in its contribution to public education. He emphasized how much Illinois had accomplished during his tenure in office while handily ignoring that the state’s credit rating had been lowered twice during that relatively brief tenure. There was nothing in his speech that would solve Chicago’s public pension problems, a significant portion of which has been fomented by the state, and one of the state’s most pressing problems.
Other than it it was a delightful speech, mostly serving to position the governor in his re-election campaign agaist Republican challenger Bruce Rauner.