I have to say, I’m impressed with Governor Quinn. Not sure how successful he’ll be convincing the Illinois Legislature to pass his budget. Frankly, bumping up the income tax is long overdue. If there is any fairness in taxes, the income tax comes closest.
But that’s an argument for another time.
Today, I was impressed to learn that Governor Quinn has attended funerals for all 30 Illinois soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past year.
Remember when we were criticizing President George Bush because he had not attended a single funeral for a fallen soldier? His record remains unblemished. Bush never attended any funerals.
I suppose there was stress enough sending young men and women to their deaths. Now, the former president is relaxing, says it’s liberating to be out of office.
Liberating for us as well.
Another digression. Back to Governor Quinn.
As the Memorial Day parade was set to kick off, Quinn stood with Mayor Daley in Daley Plaza handing out Gold Star banners to families of the 30 Illinois soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past year. Quinn has attended every funeral.
“I know all of them,” Quinn said. “Those funerals are heartbreaking days. We have one coming up Tuesday. We had one last Monday.”
But the state needs to also be concerned about the veterans returning from service. To best help them lawmakers need to fix the state’s broken funding systems, he said.
“Some . . . men and women coming back form Iraq need post-traumatic stress disorder help and counseling,” Quinn said. “We have a wonderful program, a national model. We can’t kick that program off to the side of the road because we don’t have money for it.”
I give the guy credit for showing up, standing in to honor the fallen, again and again and again. Quinn puts his money where his mouth is. That counts for something.
Sunday’s Chicago Tribune asks if Quinn can close the deal. Can he pass his budget?
Two months after Gov. Pat Quinn proposed a $26 billion public works plan, he called top lawmakers into his office and asked them to give him a few projects in the massive bill that he could call his own.
The legislature’s top four leaders, including the fellow Democrats who control the House and Senate, turned down most of his suggestions.
The quiet scene in the governor’s office last Tuesday demonstrates perhaps the most important political dynamic in state government these days: Quinn’s struggle to harness the power of his new position and the willingness of wily legislative bosses to take the lead.
Lawmakers and others with a stake in Statehouse politics cheered Quinn’s call for a new level of cooperation when he replaced the divisive Rod Blagojevich in January. But now they are questioning the untested governor’s ability to engage in the nitty-gritty of legislative dealmaking — in short, to be a closer.
So far, it looks like legislators aren’t giving an inch. The governor needs learn to play the Springfield game.
With a week left before the General Assembly adjourns for the summer, friend and foe alike say the governor has not taken charge on his signature issues — a dramatic call to close a $12 billion budget gap with a 50 percent increase in the income tax and a blue-ribbon plan to reform state government after the Blagojevich scandal.
They question why he hasn’t lobbied harder in the Capitol for his tax plan and say that members of his special reform panel often have had to fend for themselves on ethics recommendations.
“I would like to see a lot more vigor. I think [ethics reform] should be his issue. This should be the issue he owns,” Cynthia Canary, the director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said, noting Quinn’s long activist history as a self-styled reformer.
“A lot more vigor?” So the governor needs to dance for the legislature?
No, I don’t get it either. Springfield must be a political minefield, that place where dreams go to die.
How many funerals of fallen soldiers have legislators attended over the past year? Perhaps that’s not a fair quesiton, but Quinn showing up at funerals shows me that he’s grounded. A brush with reality might be good for some legislators.