If Oprah Was Governor, Even She’d Be Ashamed Of This

When last year’s budget was rolled out, Speaker Welch said: “Today’s agreement proves once again that Democrats can produce a state budget that is both fiscally responsible and compassionate at the same time. We will pass a budget that is balanced, it’ll make smart investments in the services people need, and it will be a reflection of the values we share as Illinoisans.”

When he said “agreement”, he of course meant it in the way it’s always meant in this state, which is to say that his caucus got in a room and decided who was going to get what without any input from the other side. House and Senate Republicans were once again shut out of the process, and when we didn’t vote for their budget because we had no part of creating it, they trotted out the same blather we hear every year: we’re heartless, we don’t care about the most vulnerable among us and we don’t want to provide adequate funding for schools. Blah, blah blah. Our objections about process, reining in spending, and living within our means are reduced to personal attacks on our values.

Well, the majority party finally jumped the shark, and the Chicago Tribune in its Sunday, February 11 edition called them on it. Their story pointed out the rank hypocrisy of what goes on behind closed doors, and it’s not an exercise in reflecting their values. Unless, of course, by “values” you mean a doling out a boatload of good, old-fashioned pork.

Hot Topic of the Week:

Like me, I know that you’re anxiously waiting to find out how the Governor plans to plug a projected $891 million budget gap while giving his party everything it wants for its pet projects. Especially since we’re in an election year, because we all know that the best way to get votes is to promise anything and everything while having no idea of how to pay for it. 

In my last Reick Report, I told you about the $16,268 you spent on the Speaker’s birthday party. As it turns out, that’s just the camel’s nose under the tent flap (more on camels below).

I’d like to tip my hat to the journalists at the Chicago Tribune who wrote this article in the February 11 Trib, which lays out in stunning detail the games that get played to keep a caucus that doesn’t know where money comes from and doesn’t have more than a dozen members who know how to balance a checkbook happy. From describing the last second frenzy to include pet projects for Democrats in vulnerable districts to the dog and pony show ribbon cuttings to announce projects that may not be funded for years, this article has it all. 

For taxpayers who feel that politicians, especially those in the majority, aren’t working for you – you’re right and this article goes to great length to prove it. For taxpayers of every political persuasion who happen to live in districts represented by the minority party who believe that their taxpayer dollars are being spent in other parts of the state – you’re right and this article shows you how. 

For instance, in downstate Decatur, Democratic Rep. Sue Scherer tapped $200,000, according to the budget, for a long-sought new “camel-holding building” at Scovill Zoo, which is operated by the local park district. Clay Gerhard, the park district’s executive director, confirmed Scherer secured the funding, though he said the zoo is still waiting for the state to release the money. The camels should live long enough.

I wanted to bring this article to your attention ahead of this week’s Budget Address from the Governor. He will present a budget proposal that is intended for a few days of good publicity and then the backroom horse-trading will begin. 

The past is often a harbinger of the future, and the past tells us that this kind of pork spending increases in election years. Last year was not an election year andstill:

“Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his fellow Illinois Democrats approved more than $150 million in the current state budget for local projects hand-picked by their party, a power play over Republicans that is unusual in scope and secrecy even in the history of Springfield’s chronic partisan gamesmanship.”

As elections loom and with a growing appetite for spending by the majority even though the gravy train of COVID money has left the station, this budget season isn’t going to be pretty, folks. If politicians want to run around feeling like Oprah in a non-election year paying for a new home for two camels, just imagine what they’ll want this year. 

If that isn’t enough clickbait, go read the whole article

Like what you see? Please share this update with your friends and family. If someone forwarded this e-mail to you, please sign up for my newsletter or send me a message by clicking here: https://repstevenreick.com/contact/. With this weekly Reick Report, I aim to give you a quick and easily digestible update on what is happening at the State Capitol, the top issues in our local area, and how you can get engaged.