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By: Mark Glennon*

Monday’s headlines would have been bad enough had they been what they should be every day: “Illinois is broke, getting broker and nothing is being done.”

But the day marked a steepening of the downward curve for both the state and the guy who probably represents its last hope, Gov. Bruce Rauner. He lost part of his base and much of the rest is on edge.

Mrs. Rauner, however, should have popped the champagne, which I’ll get to later.

Three things happened Monday.

First, the Illinois House passed the new school funding bill with Rauner’s approval, sending it to Senate (which has now approved) and for Rauner’s signature.

Time will expose the list of horrors in the bill, most of which remain unreported, misunderstood or covered up. We’ve written about some before, but many more will come to light.

To mention just one, there’s no money for it. The budget is already out of balance, even by the dishonest standard of government budgets. Yet the bill calls for spending more than $300 million each year for ten years. But it’s “for our children,” right? Well, that additional deficit spending will be tacked on to the debt they inherit. Rauner will share ownership of the bill as Illinois gradually learns what’s in it.

Next is the “win for democracy” as supporters call it — the automatic voter registration bill signed by Rauner on Monday. On this, most all of the General Assembly shares blame with Rauner — the bill passed with overwhelming, bipartisan. majorities.

It’s expected to add one or two million new voters to the rolls, most of whom can be expected to vote as Democrats, which in Illinois means — face it — The Machine. If Illinois is ever to eek out a majority that will overturn its establishment practices, it won’t be by adding marginally interested and unmotivated voters. The notion that more voters are better is wrong, especially in a state with a history of voter fraud. As long as voter registration requirements don’t unfairly prejudice any particular minority or economic group, they’re fine. The old system didn’t; it was fine. The chances for restoring a two-party system in Illinois took a major blow with automatic registration.

Finally, on Monday, Rauner signed the Trust Act. People I respect who have studied it  closely (I haven’t) split on it’s legal importance. Some say it makes Illinois a “sanctuary” state while some say it just codifies court rulings and has symbolic importance only.

But even that symbolic importance is huge. Many opponents of sanctuary cities, who comprise much of Rauner’s base, are absolutely livid and they don’t really give a damn whether it’s just symbolic. Rauner’s support is now getting national attention and derision.

The bottom line is that both Illinois and Rauner lost big time on Monday, and it wasn’t just because of politics, spin, or Rauner’s bad communication skills.

On the subject of communication, yes, Rauner’s staff has long shared blame and the recent turmoil in his staff left a void. But the primary failure is Rauner’s own. He’s seems forever unprepared. Though usually directionally correct, he gets facts wrong, exaggerates and sometimes just doesn’t know. He contradicts himself from one day to another. Platitudes suffice for arguments. Since he’s unquestionably smart and a true workaholic, he has no excuse for appearing to be so lazy about substance.

Ironically, while his conservative base wobbles, the narrative prevails that right wing nutjobs now dominate his staff. Among other reasons why that’s false is that First Lady Diana Rauner, by all credible accounts, is the most powerful person on the team.

I don’t know her but those who do say she’s smart, opinionated and driven, though less charitable synonyms aren’t uncommon.

Most importantly, she’s a liberal Democrat and she pushes for liberal Democratic policies.

To her and like-minded members of  the General Assembly, I say this sincerely: Touché. You had an extraordinarily successful Monday, on both policy and politics.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.

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How much is Gov. Rauner going to spend on his reelection? It reminds me of this scene in Vegas vacation. Madigan is the blackjack dealer…


How much is Gov. Rauner going to spend on his reelection? It reminds me of this scene in Vegas vacation. Madigan is the blackjack dealer…

I like the union wages I receive and the pension I’m due shortly,but the taxes forced my to commute from Indiana now.At 53 it’s not easy commuting so far but in 2 years when I retire it will pay off.Then I make the move to Florida with no income tax thank God.
I just hope my pension checks keep coming and my wife and I continue getting the health insurance.We’re lucky to have only $5 co-pays but I’ve heard horror stories about people in the private sector.I can’t even understand why any of you would stay in Chicago.


The biggest failure of Rauner is him setting back the Republican Party. With his failure to stay the course of a conservative agenda he has alienated a whole generation of conservative voters. Who can possibly follow in his failed political agenda? The republican base will continue to flee the State knowing they have no hope of changing the course of their political will. All in my humble opinion…


I’m not wobbling, I’m done with him. We had a one-shot, golden opportunity and he took our support and defense of him and blew it!
Not only did he fail us, I believe he set us back!

Agree Kathy.

Kathy, and for what? He’s not going to pick up any Democratic votes over this fiasco. He just lost his base. Who is advising him? Tiny Dancer?


You mean what / who is the alternative? I have no idea. I’m done voting for the lesser of 2 evils. If he were honorable, Rauner would step aside and clear the path for someone who has the guts to actually work for taxpayers, not just throw out ideas and posture.

I’m sure Diana Rauner’s life was infinitely more enjoyable working the philanthropy circuit from outside the governor’s mansion. Once her husband had to be accountable for the expense-side of the ledger, it immediately created a conflict of interest. Social Services, education, etc are non-stop requesters of additional resources, regardless of cost. This was not going to end well in a state mired in debt. AVR was coming sooner or later, so I’m not surprised Bruce signed that. I understand that typically translates to more democrat votes, but at some point the Republicans have to make their side more palatable to those new voters. Maybe this will motivate… Read more »

The school funding reform bill is Senate Bill 1947 (SB 1947), which replaced Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) as the bill of choice in the 100th General Assembly.

The automatic voter registration bill is Senate Bill 1933 (SB 1933), which was signed into law as Public Act 100-0464 (PA 100-0464).

The Trust Act is Senate Bill 0031 (SB 0031), which was signed into law as Public Act 100-0463 (PA 100-0463).


Crazy that Rauner didn’t even ask for Voter Fraud and Illegal Voting prevention measures.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but it is too easy to vote illegally in Illinois, only a utility bill or drivers license required, and they give out driver’s license to people here illegally.


The Temporary Visitors Drivers License (TVDL) for undocumented immigrants cannot be used for voter identification.
The TVDL legislation is Senate Bill 0957 (SB 0957) which was signed into law by Democrat Governor Pat Quinn as Public Act 97-1157 (PA 97-1157) on January 28, 2013.
The utility bill shows proof of address but alone is not sufficient to register to vote and is not a form of identification.


Doug, you are correct. I need an ID to buy a beer or board a plane, but not to vote.


And you don’t even need to know a lick of the english language.


My retirement plan in 5 years is easy now. First I will do a write in vote for governor next election, i have to un elect Rauners wife and get her out of power. I didn’t realize her ideology, as the wife, she is in a position to threaten the billionaire governor with an expensive divorce if he gets out of line. Next, in 5 years I simply leave Illinois. Rauner has gone fully to madigans side, I had hope last election, now it’s faded.


Right on Rick. I bet Rauner will now have a primary. The candidate won’t be able to win against Rauner’s $70 million, but I’ll vote for the primary candidate to send a message to Bruce. Sad- our beloved Gov Rauner has ripped his party in half.


And so goes the ever-accelerating death spiral of a once great state. My only hope is that our imminent financial collapse will be instructive to the nation.