The long version of my column from this week’s Ottawa Delivered:
In what probably was the most surprising result from last week’s general election, Gov. Pat Quinn (D-Chicago) narrowly defeated state Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) for a full four-year gubernatorial term.
If you weren’t surprised by Quinn’s win, consider that he is a governor with a low approval rating, a Democrat who swam against a Republican wave of victories, and, most importantly, he was upfront with voters about his intention to raise the state income tax to help pay for education funding – in an election cycle dominated by tea party talk of less spending and lower taxes.
But is Quinn’s surprise victory a mandate for a tax increase, as he claimed after Brady conceded the race?
I say it doesn’t because Quinn barely won the most votes – only about 20,000 more than Brady – and didn’t get a majority of them. But I also think – hold the stones, please – we shouldn’t expect him not to try passing the 1-percent state income tax hike. After all, Quinn won the election, so we should expect him to at least attempt enacting the proposals he made before Election Day.
Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, master of the Springfield political arena and essential controller of state spending, suggested Tuesday he is in favor of Quinn’s proposed tax increase. Contrary to Quinn, though, Madigan refused to say anything about the issue until after he was safely re-elected.
Again, kudos to Quinn for being honest about his intention to raise taxes and still being able to pull off the gubernatorial victory. I wonder, however, whether Quinn would be feeling so mighty right now had state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) defeated Brady in the Republican primary. I suspect Dillard, who served as former Gov. Jim Edgar’s chief of staff, would’ve defeated Quinn because he probably would’ve come up with a proposed solution for the state’s budgetary mess. I don’t know whether Dillard’s solution would’ve been a good one, but any solution beats no solution, which basically is what Brady gave voters. And that probably would’ve been enough to nudge Dillard past Quinn.
This is all speculation, of course, and the bottom line is Quinn is our governor for four more years, and whether or not you voted for him personally, we all should hope he moves Illinois in the right direction. Otherwise, by the time he is up for re-election again, our state will be really screwed.