Now that Gov. Bruce Rauner has called the tax-and-spend-happy Illinois legislature into emergency session on Wednesday in the hopes of opening schools on time, I’m going to have to do something drastic.
I’m going to have to put one of my fantasies on hold until I see whether beleaguered suburban taxpayers get squeezed to death in this deal.
The fantasy I’ve put on hold is the one in which I flee from this fiscally broken and corrupt state, flee from Illinois politicians to live happily ever after in a ridiculously small Hobbit-like “tiny house” under the lonely windmills outside Rensselaer, Ind.
Ah, living out my days on a bleak wind farm, in a 165-square-foot home with a toilet wedged between bed and stove, drinking cheap whiskey outside, alone, while burning broken pallets in a 55 gallon drum as the snow falls and the wind blows.
It sure sounds like fantasy, does it not?
I’m not alone. And if you really think I’m the only suburban taxpayer in Illinois with an active political fantasy life, you’re bonkers.
But another fantasy is what’s kept us here, the fantasy that this broken state controlled for decade upon decade by Democratic Boss Madigan will be repaired without costing us whatever equity is left in our homes.
I’ll admit, not all can find safe refuge in a mind palace like I can. Hordes of middle-class taxpayers have already gone, making Illinois the leading out-migration state in the U.S.
So depending how this special session and the November elections turn out, we’ll see how many more just pack up and go.
Rauner wants the Democrats to send him their school funding bill that has been ready for weeks. He said he’d sign an amended version to open all the schools.
Most sane people realize that schools are vitally important and require tax money to operate and pay teachers’ salaries. And Illinois is among the worst in funding education, so property taxes skyrocket.
But Rauner has promised to strike out portions of the funding bill that he calls a “pension bailout” for Chicago schools, putting suburban and downstate school districts on the hook to pay for decades of chronic Democratic mismanagement of the Chicago system.
Chicago Democrats, who want the bailout, scream that it’s not a bailout. They say it’s “for the children” and they want to stall for weeks until parents all over Illinois begin panicking that schools won’t open on time.
They want pressure to build, with parents who vote screaming at Rauner to “please just do something” to open the schools.
Question: Why does “please just do something” end up with the taxman sinking his fangs into suburban necks?
And after it’s all done, local school districts may knock on your door seeking a fat tax referendum for a fancy Olympic swimming training facility.
Hey, it’s for the children. So please, sir, may I have another?
Just do me one small favor? Please don’t tell me that what the Chicago Democrats want isn’t a bailout.
Yes, they insist in the strongest terms that it is no bailout and that the suburbs will only pay their “fair share.” What’s next?
They’ll whisper that all “profits” from the Illinois state lottery will go to fund education.
Yeah. Remember that one? It was a fantasy too, no?
But I’ve got another fantasy, perhaps even nicer.
It’s the one in which readers of news stories will be able to see the estimated yearly public pension of every Illinois politician who opens his or her mouth about spending our tax dollars.
Just putting a simple ‘R’ or a ‘D’ after the name of a politician doesn’t really explain a lot.
So let’s add the names of their spouses and children who are on governmental/political payrolls, and their governmental salaries and pensions too.
In this fantasy, the fat projected pension payouts to politicians — pensions only dreamed of by most private sector taxpayers — would be listed right next to the party affiliation.
“It’s all for the children! Don’t you care about the children?” said State Rep. Joe Whatevermikesez, D-state pension $150,000/year, spouse $80k Cook County government salary.
Just imagine if taxpayers had such information every time a politician starts yapping about doing what’s right. We’d benefit from the context.
And there’s another fantasy I’m not willing to abandon.
That’s the one in which the U.S. Attorney from Chicago starts considering RICO (racketeering) cases for tax-happy lawmakers who make fortunes in tax reduction law practices and other “corporate consulting” work.
Not that they’d ever demand a cheap quid pro quo like an envelope stuffed with greasy cash. They don’t have to. Everything’s implied.
At least, that’s what some guys say.
Powerful Illinois Politician: “RICO? A racketeering statute used against me? How dare you! I’m not even Italian. And besides, I’ve recused myself from all pertinent votes!!”
Federal Jury Foreman: “You think we’re all chumbolones? Guilty!”
A suburbanite whose property taxes are going up reminded me of another fantasy of mine.
“The one about changing the date of Election Day,” he said.
Oh yes. In that one, Election Day will be changed, from November to the day after Americans pay their taxes.
We pay our taxes in full, with no federal withholdings, just a check for the full amount. And we also pay all state and local taxes, on the same day. And only then do we vote.
‘Tis but a dream of mine.
Listen to a new episode of “The Chicago Way” podcast, with John Kass and Jeff Carlin, at http://wgnradio.com/category/wgn-plus/thechicagoway.