The Rip Van Rauner State of the State | Bleader

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Rip Van Rauner State of the State

Posted By on 01.28.16 at 06:00 AM

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click to enlarge Governor Bruce Rauner waits to be announced before delivering his State of the State address. - AP/SETH PERLMAN
  • AP/Seth Perlman
  • Governor Bruce Rauner waits to be announced before delivering his State of the State address.

If you missed Governor Rauner's State of the State speech, you're a lot luckier than I am.

I ruined the better part of Wednesday morning watching a speech that managed to be depressing and bizarre at the same time.

It was depressing because Rauner made it clear that he wasn't going to budge from his assault on collective bargaining rights, if that meant that programs for the ill, the aged, and the indigent ran out of money for lack of state funding.

And it was bizarre because he acted as though no time had passed. Like he'd slept through all of 2015 and he was back on the campaign trail in 2014, blasting Governor Quinn in a speech before, say, the Chamber of Commerce in East Moline.

You wouldn't know that Rauner had been at war with the state's Democratic leadership for more than a year. Or that he'd gone a year without passing a budget. Or that as a result, social service agencies from Zion to Cairo have cut programs and laid off workers—the Rauner administration had stopped paying its bills.

He didn't even pretend that he'd made things better in his year in his office. Instead, he talked about how Illinois had a higher unemployment rate than other states.

Excuse me, Governor Rauner, but you're the governor. If unemployment's rising, it's your fault. Can't blame this on Pat Quinn anymore.

Oh, I guess I got a laugh or two watching state senate president John Cullerton and house speaker Michael Madigan, who were standing behind Rauner.

They were like schoolboys in an assembly, snickering and rolling their eyes while the principal delivered an oration.

It's amazing that Rauner couldn't find a way to cut a budget deal with these two. Cullerton and Madigan have been cutting deals with Republicans for ages.

Cutting deals is the core of their existence. All Rauner had to do was soften his antiunion stance and they'd have probably signed on to a budget-cutting deal that would have lefties like me howling at the moon.

Well, I don't blame them for standing tough on collective bargaining. Social services funding should not hinge on dragging Illinois back to the days before the industrial revolution.

Also, everyone's got more pragmatic concerns, especially Rauner.

The unions have been contributing to Democrats for years. If Rauner can force them out of existence, that's just more power for him. Like he needs more of that.

You don't really believe he's doing this for you, do you, taxpayers?

I guess the state of the state is that nothing has changed. Rauner's not budging.

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