Illinois is a mess. Our unemployment rate is still well above the national average and the number of those who have stopped looking for work is higher still. The state pension funding is in limbo, our infrastructure is crumbling and both businesses and residents are looking to get out of Dodge.
The past and present incarceration of former governors continues to cloud our perception of the office and charges of patronage and cronyism are still familiar themes for television attack ads.
Gov. Quinn continues to cite the mess that he inherited from his incarcerated predecessor, but six years later, he clearly needs to get over it and take responsibility for the mess.
The current race for Governor underscores the importance of "keeping promises" and whether or not it's OK to change one's mind when additional information presents itself. Quinn now says the "temporary" increase in the personal income tax rate from three to five percent must become permanent or massive across-the-board cuts will result including support of K-12 and post-secondary education.
In politics, this reversal of position is known as "lying."
But in a world where we say that education is valued, isn't changing one's opinion based upon additional information actually called "learning?" Yes, we realize that's quite a stretch, but we don't believe there was intent to deceive by Quinn when Democrats said the tax increase would be temporary. Perhaps this is giving an Illinois Governor far too much benefit of the doubt.
It's at this point that you might expect us to do what nearly every other Illinois paper has done and endorse Bruce Rauner. You might expect us to conclude that the current mess can't get any worse and that the radical changes proposed by Rauner would automatically make things better. We challenge that conclusion just as we challenge you to reconsider voting for Bruce Rauner.
Rauner would have earned our endorsement if his "cut taxes" mantra was accompanied by believable state revenue and expense projections that add up.
Bruce Rauner's experience as a business owner would have earned our endorsement if we thought he had a proper appreciation of the difference between making business decisions himself and working with the General Assembly -- including Mike and the Madigan-ettes -- to build consensus and cooperation.
Bruce Rauner would have appealed to us more as someone committed to funding public education if Rauner the Governor had the same financial resources as Rauner the businessman.
Bruce Rauner would have earned our endorsement if he had presented a viable and believable transition scenario for funding state services while waiting for his 2014 rendition of trickledown economics to take effect.
In the end, we believe Bruce Rauner's plan to reduce income tax, freeze property tax and expect state business to instantly thrive and backfill lost revenue is both naive and dangerous. Unfortunately, it's exactly the kind of naive we want to believe. We want to believe there are billions of dollars of waste that will be eliminated on Jan. 12 as Rauner is sworn in. We want to believe that Rauner's goal of extending the state sales tax to an unspecified number of services will not harm our business climate. We want to believe him so much that we actually have.
Rauner's outsider "can't be bought" message sounds so good, especially when patronage and staying out of the big house rise to the top of our decision-making criteria in choosing our state's chief executive.
In the end we believe that re-electing Pat Quinn is both better and poses less economic risk to Illinois voters. If this sound like the essence of a “lesser of two evils” endorsement, than you’ve interpreted our message accurately.
At this time and for this office, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.