Whenever I tell people that Illinois is certain to elect a Republican this November, they look at me like I’m crazy. I’ve been saying this for much more than the 10 or so days I’ve been here, because it’s been obvious for a while that Pat Quinn is going down.
That said, it does seem strange that Obama’s home state would vote for a Republican (except that it already did only two years after he was elected, selecting Republican Mark Kirk to fill Obama’s own senate seat).
Quinn has been one of America’s most vulnerable governors for a while now, and nothing he seems to do will change that.
When I first met Bruce Rauner, Illinois’s next governor, over the weekend, I was struck with some serious déjà vu.
There seemed something all too familiar about a successful businessman running on fixing the economy in desperate need of a turnaround.
It took me all of a second to realize that this is the exact same dynamic that we have back in Maryland, with Larry Hogan taking Anthony Brown to task over his failed tenure as Lieutenant Governor.
Actually, that statement is kind of generous. Anthony Brown hasn’t even been doing anything lately. His campaign manager, Justin Schall, has been doing all the talking lately (maybe they’re going to try to do some candidate swapping like Democrats in Alaska did recently).
Would either of these two Republicans have much of a chance in a different year against challengers who are even moderately competent? That question is irrelevant, because the hand we’ve been dealt is an impressive one.
Illinois’s fiscal state is a complete joke, and it won’t be getting better anytime soon under this administration.
A recent article in Forbes compares Illinois’s outlook with Kansas’s. If you read any article out there, you’d hear about how Governor Sam Brownback’s tax cuts were a complete flop, but look a little closer:
“Start with jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the last twelve months (ending with August 2014) Kansas has increased private sector employment by 1.13% compared to just 0.66% for Illinois. Data for the year so far show Kansas gaining more private sector jobs than Illinois (7,800 vs. 6,200), even though Illinois’ population is more than four times larger. The growth of employment since January 2013 through August of 2014 was 72 % higher in Kansas compared to Illinois (0.78% vs. 0.46%).
On economic growth, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that Kansas’ real GDP increase was up 1.9 % last year – slighter higher than the national average of 1.8%. Illinois crept up 0.9%.”
And that’s just on jobs. When it comes to taxation, despite Quinn’s tax hikes, Illinois is still going to end the year in the red (to the tune of $4 billion).
“Even with the unexpected revenue dip, [Kansas] will finish the year with a positive reserve fund.
Contrast that with Illinois. Three years after Mr. Quinn’s new income taxes, the state finished FY 2014 with nearly $4 billion in unpaid bills. Vendors have to wait months to get paid what they are owed by the state government. Instead of one credit downgrade, Illinois has suffered nine. It now has one of the worst bond ratings of the 50 states.
The extra tax money for Springfield was supposed to help finance and improve the public schools – but it hasn’t happened. Reverend James Meeks, a long-time Democrat and head of Salem Baptist Church in Chicago, recently received publicity throughout the state by saying: “Our schools are still broken and getting worse. We’re last in employment or business. Our neighborhoods are deplorable,” he added.”
Basically, it’d be hard for Illinois to get much worse. That is not a challenge to Illinois voters to reelect Pat Quinn just to show that things could always be worse.
Back in Maryland, Larry Hogan loves mentioning (as well he should, because it showcases the complete failure of our administration) how 47% of Marylanders would flee the state if they had the opportunity. However, Illinois is also on the list. In fact, Illinois TOPS the list, with 50% of respondents willing to leave the state given the opportunity.
Both states also have serious problems with corruption. Pat Quinn is currently under not one but two federal investigations. Back in Maryland, one of our prisons was literally being run by gangmembers from behind bars (I actually first learned about this from my Democratic Attorney General, Doug Gansler).
November 4th is going to provide voters in both states with quite the juxtaposition: do they want four (or eight) more years of the current path they’re on, or do they want to turn their states around before residents finally have enough and just leave?