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The [Thursday] Papers

"Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday framed the state's precarious financial situation as a choice for lawmakers this year: work with him on a long-term mix of budget cuts, tax hikes and his pro-business, union-weakening agenda - or steep cuts will have to be made," the Tribune reports.

"'You choose,' Rauner said in his second budget speech at the Capitol. 'But please, choose now.'

"Should lawmakers continue to resist striking a thus-far-elusive compromise, the first-term governor said he would wield the budget ax himself if the General Assembly gives him special powers to do so."

I'm confused by Rauner's logic: If the General Assembly doesn't do what he wants, he'll just do what he wants without them, if the very people refusing to do what he wants give him "special powers" to do what he wants?

Rauner may have been a really good at private equity, but I think we can now finally conclude that he's utterly incompetent as a governor.

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"And while Rauner asserted that 'this year cannot become a rerun of last year,' that's the path Republicans and Democrats appear headed down this spring: a continuation of the stalemate that has left state government amassing billions of dollars in unpaid bills, social service agencies shuttering programs for the poor and some state universities pondering mass layoffs."

I have an idea - one that I'm sure tons of others (including state legislators) have had: instead of Rauner promising to pass a budget upon lawmakers passing his Turnaround Agenda, how 'bout lawmakers promise to take up his Turnaround Agenda upon him passing a budget. They can take up the agenda as one package, or piece by piece. Certainly, as governor, Rauner has the "right" to set the agenda and send bills to the legislature. He does not have the right to simply impose his will.

Of course, the reason why Rauner didn't take that course in the first place is the by-now well-reported fact that he hoped to leverage the state's fiscal crisis, including its human pain, to get his way on a bevy of non-budget, anti-labor measures. That might have worked if those measures weren't as radical as they are. Rauner, however, refuses to change course. Remember, he boasts of persistence as his best quality and brags about winning at everything he's done. And now he's steered the ship of state right into the shoals of Lake Madigan, just like so many others before him. Unfortunately, we're all on the boat this time. And in this one case, Madigan is right.

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"With all of the House and much of the Senate up for election, those in control of the Capitol are digging in, confident that voters will vindicate their approach this fall."

So Springfield has seen its shadow; nine more months of misery.

And guess what? Chances are the election won't change the dynamic one bit. Then what, Governor?

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"Until then, the state faces a $6.6 billion budget deficit. Under the proposed budget, Rauner assumes he'll be able to find $2.7 billion in savings by reducing health benefits of state workers, reining in state payments for pensions and making agencies operate more efficiently. But Rauner would need help from lawmakers and a new contract with state workers to realize much of those savings."

Given that he's extended such a welcome hand, I'm sure state workers will be eager to help!

"The governor also is hoping to avoid having to pay back $454 million that his administration borrowed from special funds last year to help get through the budget impasse."

Sounds like an old banking trick!

"That leaves a roughly $3.5 billion hole. Rauner didn't spell out how he would bridge it. Instead, the administration presented two scenarios - one in which the state would have $32.8 billion to spend and another that would allow for a more generous $36.3 billion."

Let's be a bit more clear on that by turning to Crain's, via their e-mail newsletter:

"Rauner proposes $36.34 billion in spending but predicts only $32.81 billion in revenue. The difference - $3.53 billion - is a novel line item called 'working together or executive management,' according to his operating budget."

Hey, Bruce, who needs working together when you can just executive manage your way to $3.53 billion in savings!

Of course, that's where the "special powers" comes in. I think you can get them here.

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The Tribune editorial board shops there too - and they've got a group discount on the way!

From Rich Miller: "Tribune: You're A 'Poindexter' If You Look At Rauner's Actual Budget."

The editor responsible for that piece now runs the whole paper.

So will the "facts" asserted by the editorial board under Dold now replace the facts reported up to now by the newsroom?

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Chicago Police Shooting Data Reveals 'Stop And Frisk, Chase And Shoot' Problem
In nearly a quarter of the 259 shooting incidents examined, it was the police who stirred the pot.

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Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide: Middle Infield
Addison Russell vs. Starlin Castro.

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BeachBook

Jon Stewart sums it up best for the entire state: "Let's say you're present governor of Illinois and you're in a room with a former governor of Illinois on your right and a former governor of Illinois on your left. Chances are the room you're in is jail."

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Posted on February 18, 2016


MUSIC - Blues Fest 2017.
TV - 'The Worst FCC I've Ever Seen.'
POLITICS - Minimum Wage Hikes Work.
SPORTS - On Joe Louis, Race And Sports Heroes.

BOOKS - The Blood Of Emmett Till.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Artist As Alchemist.


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