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Editorial: Have you thought of a visit to Mr. Madigan?

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Editorial: Have you thought of a visit to Mr. Madigan?

By Chicago Tribune Editorial Board

Toni Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County Board, visited the Tribune Editorial Board this week to warn that because of lack of payments from the state, she’ll soon have to lay off workers and curtail programs that enforce child support payments, reduce criminals’ recidivism and promote public health initiatives. She made a strong case for the value of these programs.

She also said she fears that the Springfield standoff may continue until voters in the November general election side one way or the other, give a little more power to Illinois Republicans or Democrats. That’s a long way off.

Budget gridlock in Springfield is genuinely damaging many Illinois citizens, and the costs are mounting.


Students at Chicago State and other public universities wonder if their schools, lacking their expected infusions of state aid, eventually will close.

Border to border, social services agencies reduce or cancel programs on which many citizens rely.

Chicago Public Schools borrows money at exorbitant rates to keep the doors open for a few more months, on a prayer that Springfield will come to the rescue.

When Democratic voices rise in protest over this, they typically target this state’s governor. He’s a Republican, relatively new to Springfield. We see no evidence that the clamor from his political rivals fazes him.

And why should it? Bruce Rauner has all but proclaimed from atop the Capitol dome that he’ll agree to raise taxes. We’ve reported his concessions, the narrowing of his reform agenda, and we’ve heard no one complain that he won’t negotiate personally with legislators.

What he won’t do is raise taxes without changing the sorry ways in which this state does business. That is, without changing a system that has trashed the public finances of Illinois and many of its 7,000 local government bodies.

Long before Rauner ran for office, we were writing about state government’s reckless borrowing, spendaholic (and unbalanced) budgets, and ruinous sweetheart pension deals with leaders of public employee unions. So, yes, during his year as governor, we’ve often editorialized in favor of his proposed reforms to how Illinois long has malfunctioned.

Feel free to agree or disagree with us. What matters most is that, for all the Democratic criticism of Rauner, Illinois isn’t closer to solutions for the impasse in Springfield. Nothing’s getting fixed.

What perplexes us is how strenuously those who blame Rauner avoid challenging the most formidable power player in Springfield, House Speaker Michael Madigan.


(c)2016 the Chicago Tribune

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