Illinois Democrats’ “Good Government” Message Beats Governor Junk’s “Government Chaos” in 2018
By State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie), Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader and Executive Vice Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party
Good government is good politics.
That’s Illinois Democrats’ message strategy heading into the 2018 election: good government.
Good government means ending Governor Bruce Rauner’s manufactured budget crisis and, finally, balancing the state budget despite painful decisions, which included both increasing revenue and cutting state spending by $2.9 billion – $2.9 billion.
By approving a balanced budget, we can begin to repair the damage inflicted on Illinois by Bruce Rauner’s three-year political jihad against organized labor, Downstate Illinois, and the City of Chicago.
More important, because of Illinois Democrats’ balanced budget, the benefits to the state will be felt nearly immediately:
- Our schools, which were at risk of being unable to open, will open in the fall and Democrats’ balanced budget will provide an additional $334 million next year, including an extra $500,000 for agricultural education.
- Domestic violence shelters, which were closing their doors, denying critical services to survivors of abuse, will remain open.
- Breast cancer screenings for women will resume.
- To battle the heroin and opioid crisis rampaging throughout Illinois, financially starved mental health centers and addiction treatment providers have been rescued with additional money and will remain open.
- Doctors, dentists, hospitals, human services providers, small businesses owners to whom the State now owes more that $14 billion – that’s billion – in a backlog of unpaid bills will now start to get paid.
- State universities – Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois, Northern Illinois, Illinois State, Chicago, University of Illinois – will have their funding restored and will survive, and, once again, thrive.
- Road improvement and bridge repair projects will continue and 22,000 construction workers will keep their jobs.
- Current spending has been cut by $2.9 billion.
- Illinois’ bond credit rating will avoid being downgraded to “junk.”
That’s good government.
That’s Illinois Democrats’ message to voters.
Bruce Rauner, on the other hand, has had only one message: government chaos is good.
What has been the political impact of Rauner’s “government chaos is good” message over the last two years?
Voters detest him.
After two years into Illinois’ horrendous budget crisis a clear majority of Illinois voters disapprove – 58% –of Bruce Rauner’s job performance while a mere 36% approve, according to a Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll of 1,000 registered voters conducted March 4 – March 11, 2017.
“We have tested Gov. Rauner’s job approval four times since he took office, and two findings jump out at us,” said professor Charlie Leonard, one of the designers of the poll. “First is that the governor’s approval rating, since Spring of 2015, right after he assumed office, has remained relatively steady in the high 30s to low 40s, though at 36 percent it’s the lowest we have seen. Second is that his disapproval rating has grown consistently, from 31 disapproving in March 2015 to 58 percent today—almost doubling.”
Where is Bruce Rauner popular?
In the City of Chicago, 64% disapprove of his performance while 31% approve. In downstate Illinois, 56% disapprove and only 38% approve of the job he’s doing. In the suburbs of Cook and the collar counties, 58% disapprove; 37% approve.
How has your “government chaos is good” worked out for you, Bruce? Huh?
Even the ultra-conservative, pro-business newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, has turned on Bruce Rauner.
In a June 2017 editorial, the paper’s editors wrote that because of Illinois’ collapsing credit score, Bruce Rauner deserved the title: “Governor Junk.” But it’s clear from the Simon poll that Illinois voters had months earlier rated Bruce Rauner’s performance as “junk.”
Nevertheless, let’s be clear. A tax increase is never popular. Never. It’s not even popular among Democrats. The same Simon poll revealed that only 18% of Democrats supported a “tax increase-only” solution to balancing the budget. That’s why Illinois Democrats’ budget plan also cuts $2.9 billion from current spending in order to live within our means. The combination of both increased revenue and budget cuts earns the support of 38% of Democrats and 39% of independents.
What was the alternative? Cutting money for K-12 education? Cutting programs for poor people? Cutting money for state universities?
Voters are clear: no.
The Simon poll says 82% oppose cutting elementary and high school budgets; 72% oppose cutting “programs for poor people”; and 67% oppose cutting funding for state universities.
“Not a single governmental function was targeted by a majority of the voters as places they would support cuts in the agencies’ budgets,” according to the Simon Institute press release.
Balancing the state budget, providing more money for K-12 education, protecting vulnerable families, adequately funding stating universities, while cutting the budget by $2.9 billion is good government. It also makes good politics.
Good government beats Governor “Junk” in 2018.