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UIS Professor: One-party rule could be ‘ticket for ignoring the problems’ in Illinois

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Thursday, September 27, 2018  |  Article  |  By Greg Bishop

Candidates--Statewide (12) , Political Parties (Incld Tea Party) (39a) Madigan, Michael--State House, 22
A political studies professor says dramatic things could happen if Illinois were to become a one-party-rule state. Whether those dramatic things are good or bad is up to the voters.

Illinois had one-party rule with Democrats controlling the legislative and executive branches for the 12 years up to when Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner took office in 2015.

In his re-election bid, Rauner has been criticized for saying he’s “not in charge.” Asked during an NBC 5 forum Thursday if he’s in charge, Rauner said Democrats have too much power in longtime House Speaker and Democratic Party of Illinois Chairman Michael Madigan.

“Everyone in Illinois knows that our state has been under the stranglehold of Mike Madigan and his dominant political machine for decades – that has buried our state in deficit spending, in higher taxes, self-dealing corruption,” Rauner said.

Rauner said Democrats under Madigan have too much power in the legislature, controlling both the House and Senate, rendering him unable to bring about reforms “for term limits, for fair maps, for property tax relief, for regulatory relief for our small businesses so we can grow more good-paying jobs.”

Democrats have said Rauner wants extreme change they say will hurt working class people. Democratic challenger J.B. Priztker has labeled Rauner a failure.

University of Illinois, Springfield, professor emeritus Kent Redfield didn’t put values on any policy positions, but said consolidation of power in one party can lead to something the nation’s founding fathers warned about: Tyranny of the majority.

“You can do dramatic things if you have both branches of the legislature and the governor’s chair,” Redfield said.

Whether those things are good or bad is a matter of opinion. Redfield said it's ultimately up to voters, but noted that when one political party has control, there are potential drawbacks.

“One-party rule becomes a ticket for ignoring the problems that we have and not addressing the fundamental change that we need,” Redfield said.

As to other statewide offices, Redfield said there are pros and cons to having offices like comptroller and governor held by the same party.

“Comptrollers and governors can work together as [Republican Comptroller Leslie] Munger and Rauner did or they can be at odds with each other as has certainly been the case with [Democratic Comptroller Susana] Mendoza and Rauner when they’ve been at odds,” Redfield said.

Mendoza has been critical of Rauner. In her re-election bid, she was asked by the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board this month if she’d be as critical with Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, if he gets into office.

“I think we’ll be on the same page on what we need to do to stabilize the state’s finances,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza, Pritzker and most Democrats in the legislature support changing the state constitution to allow for a progressive income tax structure rather than the existing flat income tax. A progressive income tax structure has higher rates for higher-income groups and lower rates for lower-income groups. Pritzker has so far refused to detail a rate structure or how earners at different income levels would be taxed under his plan. He has said repeatedly that the rates would depend on negotiations with lawmakers.

“The danger that I see is that the progressive income tax certainly becomes this kind of holy grail sitting out there,” Redfield said. “That’s three years away at a minimum in terms of passing a constitutional amendment and then implementing it through the legislature if it ever happens. We’re broke right now."

“You’ve got power and potential in one-party rule to do things, but that’s no guarantee they’re going to be the right things,” Redfield said.