Democrat Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker while on the campaign trail before November's election | Twitter
Years of unbalanced budgets, unpaid bills, pension shortfalls and a collapse in manufacturing jobs are among 20 "facts" that Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker doesn't want "ordinary Illinoisans" to know, an online news service said earlier this week.
Pritzker also is hoping ordinary Illinoisans suffer selective blindness and memory issues, according to the Wirepoints report published Tuesday. Pritzker wants his constituents to blame the state's crisis on his predecessor, former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, but not on House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), according to the website.
"We won't defend Rauner," the report written by Ted Dabrowski, president of Wirepoints, and John Klingner, a political analyst, said. "His four years were a failure, full of blunders, lost opportunities and about-faces. And the Rauner/Madigan impasse certainly made things worse."
Ted Dabrowski | Photo courtesy of Illinois Policy Institute
The truth is that Illinois's financial crisis has been a decades-long bipartisan effort and Pritzker appears to be setting up the state for more of the same, according to the report.
"Illinois was a fiscal and economic basket case long before Rauner stepped into the governor's office," the report said. "No amount of anti-Rauner rhetoric should let Illinoisans ignore that reality."
Since his inauguration last month, Pritzker has dealt with the state's fiscal crisis largely by releasing a budget with a larger than normal deficit—more than $3 billion—and blaming Rauner. In a report called "Digging Out: The Rauner Wreckage Report," Pritzker's office places the blame for billions of dollars in unpaid bills, the state's $7.8 billion budget deficit, more than $133 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and other financial woes squarely on Rauner's administration.
"Four years of failure and ideological warfare in Illinois state government created a mess that will take years to put behind us," that report says. It indicates that Pritzker will fix these woes but does not say how, which has led to speculation that the governor might release those details during his budget address, which is scheduled Feb. 20.
Recognizing that former Illinois governors Jim Edgar, George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn shoulder their share of the blame is far closer to the truth, but the one constant through it all has been Madigan, according to the Wirepoints.
"He's presided over the entire downward slide," the Wirepoints report said, adding that despite that history, Pritzker wants Illinoisans to believe it's "all about Rauner."
"We get that—it’s politics as usual to blame the predecessor," the Wirepoints document continued. "But there's more to it than that. If Pritzker can pin all of the state's failures on Rauner by leveraging Illinoisans' strong distaste for the former governor, then Pritzker's 'solutions'—a collection of tax hikes, pension bonds and new spending—become easier to swallow."