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How Illinois is getting better at being the worst in the country financially

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, right, and his Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker faced-off in a debate in Chicago before the Sun-Times Editorial Board. (Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times via AP File) ORG XMIT: ILCHS301

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, right, and Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker faced off in a debate before the Sun-Times Editorial Board. | Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times

We have the worst Republican governor running the state that’s ranked the worst in America financially. And worstest of all, we have Democrat Mike Madigan as Lifetime Speaker of the House.

Our pension debt is so large that it threatens to consume most of the state’s budget in a few years.

Bruce Rauner, elected governor four years ago, not only failed to solve the debt problem but made the situation worse by refusing to compromise with Madigan. That meant a state on the verge of financial collapse could not pass a budget. The National Review, a conservative magazine, ranked him the worst Republican governor in the country.

If elected, Rauner’s promising four more years of political warfare with Madigan.

OPINION

As for the Democratic candidate for governor, J.B. Pritzker, his plan for solving the state’s financial mess includes a graduated income tax, which would require changing the Illinois Constitution.

That would require a 60 percent vote of approval by the state Legislature, followed by a statewide vote to amend the Constitution, which could probably take a couple of years.

Pritzker’s so afraid of how the public might react to such a plan that he’s refused to say what the tax brackets might look like under his income tax plan. So long as you think someone else is going to pay for the tax hike, it seems like a pretty good idea.

This is how election campaigns work in Illinois, the worst state in America. The state was designated as in the worst economic shape by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

So one candidate for governor vows to stop the Legislature from doing anything if elected and the other guy say he’ll do something if Madigan approves.

I keep waiting to hear something that will make me believe one of these candidates is actually qualified for office.

Pritzker has said he will spend a lot more money on mental health care in Illinois because this state has failed to help people suffering from mental illness. That’s the truth.

Pritzker has said he will spend more money on health care in general for the people of Illinois because everyone ought to have health insurance.

And Pritzker has said he will spend more on education for the people of Illinois because children ought to have a quality education.

Illinois is deep in debt.

Even if that graduated income tax plan gets passed, is there going to be enough money left to pay all the state’s bills? Pritzker’s not sharing that information, and in the worst run state in America, it really doesn’t matter.

As for Rauner, he hates taxes. Tells that to everyone he meets. Hates property taxes and hates income taxes. But he brags about the hundreds of millions of new dollars he’s spending on public education, courtesy of Mike Madigan’s income tax hike.

If it weren’t for property taxes, the state income tax would have to increase even more because property taxes pay for 67 percent of the cost of education.

Actually, Rauner and Madigan have both suggested that the state solve its teacher pension funding crisis by shifting the burden from the state to local school districts. That would really make property taxes skyrocket, but in the state with the second-highest property taxes, that’s a good thing because politicians can campaign for office promising to cut property taxes. Voters like that.

Back when we had governors going to prison all the time, I remember thinking things couldn’t get much worse.

My mistake. No matter how bad things are in Illinois, we’re getting better at making them worse every year.

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