It’s time for an Illinois General Assembly “brain wave” caucus

We continue to scan the horizon for news of a Republican Illinois General Assembly Caucus plan to fix the state’s fiscal mess based upon Republican principles – as of yet the radar screen is blank.

Last week the Daily Herald (DH) ran an entertaining article that included these quotes by Roosevelt University professor Paul Green regarding Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s proposed budget and gross receipts tax:

“This is the most radical change in the way we govern ourselves.”

“This is real huge.”

The DH report included this:

“In terms of how businesses are expected to be affected by a new tax on their gross receipts, Green said one would have to go back to the Great Depression itself to find something of similar economic significance in Illinois history.

On the other hand, he said the budget proposal is likely to prove so controversial that it could provide Republicans with the first lifeboat they’ve seen since the start of a Democratic stranglehold of the state in recent years.”

Green could have a point. Unfortunately, the problem is that both Republican Caucuses in the General Assembly have been without a plan for years – the last two years of which we have seen the state’s fiscal situation deteriorate to such a degree that many university professors might agree is “significant.”

The Republican Caucuses’ response at the end of the 2005 session was to vote against the Democrat’s budget. It would’ve been a good start – if it was a start. It wasn’t. Their ‘no’ votes ended it. We’ve seen no action to move public opinion in support of alternative governing plan since those end-of-session 2005 votes.

The Republican Caucuses response in 2006 was to listen to Andy McKenna and John McGovern and Jim Edgar and Bob Kjellander and support Judy Baar Topinka for Governor. Or at least to stay silent and acquiesce to her candidacy. “Maybe she’ll appoint me Director of Agriculture [or whatever],” no doubt some legislators thought.

We know the rest of the story.  Tacit support for Topinka was thought to be a good idea by only 39% of voters – a new low for an establishment backed candidate.

The Daily Herald also quoted Paul Green on what the paper called “the balance of power between the parties”:

“This state has gone from being one of the most [politically] competitive, going from blue to dark blue.”

Please. There is no balance of power because there is only one power and one idea. It’s all Democrats and it’s all a discussion of which taxes to increase. One state senator delivered the real message of most Republican members of the G.A. when he said this a couple months ago:

“To get out of this big problem that we’re in, there has got to be shared pain by everybody,” said Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford. “That means government has got to take some pain, future pensioners have got to take some pain, and the taxpayers – we cannot cut government enough to fix the mess that we’re in.”

Sorry taxpayers. The spending boom that began in the late 1990s isn’t over yet. “There isn’t enough government to cut to fix the mess.” That’s not competition or a balance of power. In the words of Paul Green, that’s public policy reduced for four words: “Who pays? Who gets?”

After saying what should be obvious to the Republican Caucuses about “lifeboats” being offered by Democrats, Green almost seems to sense he needs to remind Republicans what Republicans are supposed to be saying. As the Daily Herald reported,

He said the governor’s budget has its share of worthy causes, but that government often requires hard choices.

“There are always more worthy causes than there are worthy dollars,” Green said. “The question is, where do you get the money?”

Paul Green suggested that Gov. Blagojevich might just get something historic passed because the Governor has already been successful in turning public opinion. To illustrate, Green mentioned the governor’s campaign ads last year saying of Topinka, “What’s she thinking?”

In the meantime the Republican Caucuses are silent. We know for a fact that there are individual Republican House members and Senate members who have the ability to put together a counter-proposal to the tax increases being pushed by the tax-eating lobby and their elected serfs.

Of course it wouldn’t get voted on, but that’s not the point. The point is public opinion and the effort to begin moving it in support of the right direction for state government.

It’s time for a “brain wave” caucus to form in the Illinois General Assembly. In fact it’s long over due. It can be made up of members of both the house and the senate – and if the plan put forward is good enough it might even have the potential to be bi-partisan.

We will continue to scan the horizon.

©2007 John Francis Biver