A New Can Of Worms
21 May 2004
Illinois Isn't As Cheap As It Used To Be

Illinois Received $9.6 Million from Gambling Interests according ot ICPR:

"In just the last decade, gambling interests have given more than $9.6 million to Illinois political campaigns, according to an examination of political campaign contributions by racetracks, manufacturers of gaming equipment, casino owners, and those seeking casino licenses. "

And still, they can't get a Chicago casino...

Do gooders love to argue that our political system is for sale, yet we constantly hear about big spending groups not getting what they want.... Some sale, unh?

18 May 2004
How Do You Determine Whether or Not You Are Adequately Funding Education?

PolicyGuy has found the answer...
17 May 2004

I've been milling around over at Archpundit these past few days. He has been posting a lot of interesting items lately. I've been responding to some of them.

One thing that always catches my attention is when he talks about the conservative movement:

"Republican conservatives understand that tearing down the old party is what they want. They want to have those fights and then build the party up to challenge Democrats on a host of social conservative issues including taxes and morality issues.

The argument is that once the party is pure, the party can then win elections again by being correct. The problem is that the way to win elections is get 50% +1 of the vote and I am always confused by how moving to the right attracts that moderate voter."

He is 100 percent right. And that's why center-right movement has been more involved in buidling coaltions - especially after the lessons of 1992 - rather than engage in purity fights. That message, however, is just now making it to Illinois. With the old guard on both sides of the Reagan - permanent minority divide still struggling to get it.

I think it is telling that at the Heritage Foundation Resource Bank held in Chicago this past month, very few Illinois conservatives attended. Vern McArthy was there, Bob Costello from Social Securtiy Choice was there as well some of his board members. However, there was no Pat O'Malley, no Jack Roeser, no Paul Caprio, nor anyone from the Illinois Leader in attendence. Ed Meese was there, Ed Crane from Cato, and Ed Fuelner from the Heritage Foundation (I sat at his table at one event). John Curry, current scourge of the Illinois leader board and good friend of the Illinois Policy Institute attended some of the lunch events.

On Thurday of the Resource Bank I took Grover Norquist over to the RPN happy hour where he spoke. It was a big success and Grover got to meet some of the party faithful and the IL GOP staffers. He was impressed. Later that night I introduced IL GOP ED John Hoffman to Ed Meese at the Heartland Institute's anniversary party. I did see Dan Proft and John Cox at that event, but that was it as far as Resource Bank goes.

A lot of conservatives in this state are unhinged from the national movement. That's because many of them continue to practice the failed strategies of "I'm more conservative than you." and "If you don't agree with me on everything then you are RINO." Some who prefer the good old days of Bob Michel and the permanent minority do what they can to continue this struggle in Illinois, but by and large we are beginning to move past all that.

As far as Tom Cross goes, he just passed property tax relief for the state. In Collinsville I thanked him for proving that it was indeed possible for republicans to cut taxes in this state when I congratulated him on his great win. Realistic conservatives recognize that we need people like him if we are going to win.

One final note about all of this. I did catch a glimpse of Jim Edgar at booth on Saturday. He was looking over my product. I don't think he was smiling...that doesn't mean anything, though... We'll have to watch this one develop.
Governor Bolshevik in Real Trouble

The AP reports this morning what critics -- including the Illinois Policy Institute -- have been saying for a year. This budget is not going to work. As the Illinois-STAMP predicted, we're going to fall at least 100 million short.

We're looking at a $1.7 billion budget whole that the gov. is trying to fill with the same failed strategy from last year.

Republicans are still leery of producing a counterproposal. Sen. Watson, the Minority Leader, has begun to talk about spending cuts, but resists saying where. Politically, you can't blame him because of the cacophony that would follow.

My argument is that any counterproposal should focus on productivity measures. That means getting more with less. In Illinois providing services = more money. In the private sector you try to do more with less to squeeze out profits. Government can learn to do more with less to squeeze out more services with fewer dollars. We've seen it happen all over the country.

John La Plante and I discuss this in a policy brief we released on May 6th. Over the long term billions can be saved.

To his credit, the governor has talked about some of these iniatiatives, but he hasn't really followed through. Ryan and Edgar also talked some of these up in their Administrations but did little to seriously implement them. Republicans could adopt many of these proposals as there own as an alternative to simply spending more money, which is all that the governor is doing. But somebody, anybody has to put some political will behind these proposals.

More spending does not necessarily equal the same level or more services.

Politically, if handled right , focussing on productivity measures can be smart. First, you insulate yourself from the hand wringing that occurs when you say "cut spending." Enhancing productivity is a way to maintain or improve service levels, while using up fewer resources. Second, it begins to change the language used in Springfield.

Right now, any talk of reducing state spending means a cut in services. The bureaucrats and the liberal bretheren in the General Assembly equate spending with services. By focussing on reform through productivity you are changing the terms of the debate. This can have a long term impact on the size and scope of state government.

Florida spends as much as Illinois with 6 million more people. That should be the short term goal (5 years). Get spending proportional to Florida's.

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