Friday, July 29, 2005

Dream of a veto-proof Senate majority. . . . and then walk a precinct

There are 33 Democratic state senators (counting Independent James Meeks). With 36 Democratic state senators, the Democratic caucus could override a veto of the governor.

And that would shift things around quite a bit.

Right now, a lot of progressive ideas, especially a 5 percent income tax to invest in Illinois' future, get stifled because the governor is an opponent.

With a veto-proof majority in the Senate, that dynamic would lose a lot of steam.

And this isn't so inconceivable. Are there three seats that can flip from R to D in the next year?

How about the many open seats that moderate, intelligent Republicans are leaving?

Senator Dave Sullivan in Park Ridge (where the Jan Schakowsky organization has been growing) is a great example.

Senator Steve Rauschenberger (who has a blog of his own for his gubernatorial race here) represents an increasingly Latino district in Elgin. . .and Latinos like the D.

And the big Tier One target race is likely to be Rick Winkel, a thoughtful Republican in an increasingly-Democratic district (one of the two state reps earned 62% of the vote last time against a very good Republican opponent) where hard-charging Michael Frerichs, the Champaign County Auditor and another thoughtful public official, is considering a challenge to Winkel. (This would be a real showdown between two smart, shrewd, savvy politicos -- I was a student in Champaign when Rick Winkel rode the 1994 GOP sweep to the state House on a very-smart 'Save the Chief' campaign on campus).

That's three.

And that's a veto-proof majority.

The House, with six more seats to pick up, looks a lot tougher. (There are 65 House Dems now, and 71 are needed for that veto-proof majority). But anything is possible. It will just be Governor Blagojevich at the top of the ticket (no U.S. Senate race, no presidential race), so if we Dems want to play to our strengths, we ought to be refining our message of what a Democratic state government has delivered for Illinois in the last four years -- higher wages and healthier people without a tax increase.

So if you'd like to build up a veto-proof majority, what are you waiting for? Get involved. Start practicing on your friends and family about why electing Democrats makes our lives better. We always have a more difficult message than Republicans. Practice. And convince people to vote for us -- either the people in your circle of friends and family or strangers in your precinct.

22 comments:

respectful said...

So one-party rule isn't sufficient? Dan wants an even bigger majority for the ruling party? That's reform?

Don't forget that those downstate Dems won't all vote for some of the more liberal Chicago schemes, so even with a veto-proof majority, Dems would need a couple of Republicans to ofset the downstate Dems.

respectful said...

Dan says Dems should brag about delivering "higher wages and healthier people without a tax increase." But earlier he writes that the veto-proof majority would be able to boost the income tax 67% from a rate of 3% to 5%. Please explain again why voters should give the Dems a bigger majority: Is it to stop tax hikes or to adopt them??

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

I got a double from respectful! It is fair to claim credit for not raising any taxes, especially to those voters who care most about that. I would prefer that the Dems not promise to keep a 3 percent income tax going forward, as it leads to underinvestment in our state. And I think Dems should be rewarded with a larger majority because they have delivered on progressive governance. Sometimes that calls for higher taxes if the spending is efficient, prudent and a great investment. Sometimes it calls for cutting. Those Downstate Dem districts are usually below-average income districts and would benefit from the investments made possible from a 4 or 5 percent income tax.

IlliniPundit said...

Blagojevich and the Democratic policies of the last four years will be a huge albatross around Frerichs neck if he runs against Winkel.

Deep UI funding cuts...
De-funding state employees pension payements...
Merit scholarships eliminated...
Rescinded Illinois First grants to local schools in heavily Democratic Urbana...
Emil Jones threatening to cut funding to the UI even further because of the Chief...

Blagojevich is very, very unpopular down here, and is actively disliked by many. He's been booed at both appearances he's made in Champaign County over the last twelve months.

If Frerichs wins (and it's going to be a battle), it will be despite the Democratic record of the past four years, not because of it.

Anonymous said...

Three Republican responses to this idea (IlliniPundit seems to hate Democrats for a living), but it does raise a fair question -- should progressives fight for a veto proof majority in case the Democratic governor vetos anything, or should they fight for a progressive governor who wouldn't veto things?

Dan?

What say you?

MDS said...

I'm all for Democratic gains, but I'd be torn in a Winkel-Frerichs race because I've known and liked both of them since my days as a U of I undergrad. (Days that are in the increasingly distant past, I realize on this, my 29th birthday.)

IlliniPundit said...

(IlliniPundit seems to hate Democrats for a living)

Not really. What makes you say that?

BuckTurgidson said...

A veto-proof majority is not one-party rule. Because odds are still with a Blagojevich re-election...

respectful said...

Buck: The same party holds not only the governor's mansion, but five of the other six statewide offices, and majorities on the state Supreme Court and in both houses of the General Assembly. Sure sounds like one party domination. But not enough to satisfy Dan.

I'd like Democrats to explain why one-party domination at the national level is an evil but one-party domination in Illinois is a good?

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

IlliniPundit, I hope you don't mind that I won't take your word for it that Blagojevich is deeply unpopular in East Central Illinois. Let's see how things develop when the natural campaigner gets to work. Anon, so far Governor Blagojevich hasn't vetoed anything crucial (that I can recall offhand), but the culture of deference to the governor on big picture issues in the General Assembly puts a lot of potentially exciting, big-picture agendas off the table. A veto-proof majority could change that dynamic and encourage more legislators to propose big investments in Illinois. Happy Birthday, MDS. And I like Rick Winkel as well. Especially with the mass disappearance of the Senate GOP, his stock goes up. But I want a veto-proof majority. So I'm with the Democratic candidate, especially if s/he is as good as Michael Frerichs. Respectful, with the GOP running DC (they've got the Presidency, the Senate, the House and the Supreme Court), I like having the Dems running the state. That's a real check-and-balance.

respectful said...

So when the Dems regain the majority nationally, does that mean you think the GOP should regain the majority in the state, as a "check and balance"?

Anonymous said...

It seems smart to question the Governor's commitment to *public* education. Did Governor B go to any public universities?

Democrats are usually for public education and social programs. They usually do not want to privatize stuff as much as Republicans.

When it came to higher ed, did IL Governor B choose to privatize his education?

Irony

Anonymous said...

On progressive income taxation:

1) comparable and more specific: it might help your cause if you had comparable information - NY, CA and IL - tax rates and related brackets of income. It also might help if you had more specific on IL proposal (eg, what income levels would 5% kick in)

2) offsets - are there any partial offsets to progressive taxation? (eg, would property tax increases not be as much?)

3) impact on jobs - have you floated progressive income taxation to corporations, business and private firms? How did they react? Would they move high-income jobs outside of IL given progressive taxation?

4) where does the money go from the incremental "progressive" tax?


On something you wrote:

1) more support (specific claims, quantified if possible) for the following:

"what a Democratic state government has delivered for Illinois in the last four years -- higher wages and healthier people without a tax increase."

IlliniPundit said...

IlliniPundit, I hope you don't mind that I won't take your word for it that Blagojevich is deeply unpopular in East Central Illinois.

I understand. I've not seen any area-specific polling either, but it's my gut feeling coupled with anecdotes like that Blago was booed (or so I was told) at his last appearance in CU (at a check presentation, no less).

I think the only way he gets over 40% in Champaign County (and he almost won it in '02) is if he comes out publicly for the Chief. :-)

Anonymous said...

it depends on coming up with a better candidate - democrat or republican.

some of it is random. the economy in IL is not in glory years (Marshall Fields) yet it could also be worse. It is not necessarily the govt job (dems or republicans) to deliver business jobs. Low taxes and good policy can only offset so many poor business decisions.

on another sidebar: it might be nice to for IL govt people to talk to Massachussetts govt people. IL may be able to learn and benefit from things in Mass. Not sure.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

I thought he did win Champaign County in 02. I will take your word that Jim Ryan won Champaign County if you're sure about that. I don't see the Dems ever getting back the majority nationally. The House looks like a GOP lock, in part because of GOP gerrymandering. Maybe the President in 2008 can be won back, and maybe the Senate. More specific provisions of a 5% income tax are important. The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has a fairly detailed plan that SB 755 largely incorporated. California has a progressive income tax with higher rates on higher incomes, as does New York (I believe). I'll find state tax rates online.

IlliniPundit said...

Ryan/Hawkinson won Champaign County 52-44, by about 4100 votes. You can see the results yourself, here.

The Winkel/Frerichs district cuts out about 1/3 of the most GOP sections of the County (of course, that would be Democratic gerrymandering, but we don't talk about that...), so it's much more competive than the County as a whole.

But Blago's not well-liked amongst the University community either, which definitely is in that Senate district. They don't like the budget cuts, the pension sham, or the constant references to how proud he is of his stupidity. I was told last week by a UI Dean that the University has cut over 300 tenured teaching positions in the last three years.

Anonymous said...

Correction -- 65 dems in the House currently, 71 needed for a super-, or if you prefer, veto-proof majority.

Anonymous said...

IP,

I don't doubt that the university (where you work) has cut 300 faculty positions.

Yet, they are constantly putting more money into athletics, golf domes, and hotels. It is a matter of priorities. What is the mission of the public universities?

Blago tried early in his term to get this stuff in check, but the universities are out of control.

Michael said...

It's a shame that we're even considering a veto-proof Democratic majority as a strategy against a Democratic governor. Do you think Blagojevich has the nomination sewed up this far in advance? I think the Republicans are still sufficiently disarrayed that the Democratic Party could survive a competitve primary to retain the mansion in the general election.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Thanks for the correction on my numbers. I do think that there isn't much room for a challenge to Blagojevich in the primary. Aside from his sharp elbows, the pay-to-play stuff and his refusal to raise the income tax to Invest In Illinois, Blagojevich has been a really good governor. He has signed a lot of good bills. That counts for a lot. I didn't realize the Dem map sliced out a third of Champaign County. But I don't think it's a shame to consider a veto-proof majority. I just think that's a good thing to strive for -- especially to change the culture of deference to the governor on big picture initiatives that infects much of the General Assembly.

IlliniPundit said...

IP,

I don't doubt that the university (where you work) has cut 300 faculty positions.


I don't work at the University, just live in the community.

Yet, they are constantly putting more money into athletics, golf domes, and hotels. It is a matter of priorities. What is the mission of the public universities?

I believe that the three projects that you've cited are almost exclusively funded by private donors and developers. Certainly no faculty postions were eliminated to fund the golf practice facility or Memorial Stadium renovations.

Blago tried early in his term to get this stuff in check, but the universities are out of control.

Unfortunately, the University (or any University) cannot donate large sums of money to the Governor, and therefore is a natural place for him to look when cutting state funding in order to continue rewarding his large contributors. And that is a sad, sad fact of life in Illinois today.

But back to my original point - it will take an abosolute miracle for Blago to get over 40 percent in Champaign County, which will hurt Frerichs, and he's going to be quite a drag on other downstate legislative candidates as well.