Statehouse Insider column: A year ago at this time, ROD BLAGOJEVICH was governor, Illinois had a lieutenant governor and had just gotten a second U.S. senator. Twelve months later, PAT QUINN is governor, there is no lieutenant governor and the second U.S. senator is a lame duck. Now consider what the Illinois political landscape will be at this time a year from now.
A year ago at this time, ROD BLAGOJEVICH was governor, Illinois had a lieutenant governor and had just gotten a second U.S. senator. Twelve months later, PAT QUINN is governor, there is no lieutenant governor and the second U.S. senator is a lame duck.
Now consider what the Illinois political landscape will be at this time a year from now.
Illinois will once again be close to having an elected governor (whoever it is still won't take office for a few more days). Yes, Quinn is an elected official, but of course he ran as a team with Blagojevich. It's hard to imagine people were casting their votes for Quinn as opposed to Blagojevich in the 2006 election.
By this time next year, there will be a governor about to take office who was chosen by voters.
Illinois will also be on the verge of having a lieutenant governor for the first time in nearly two years. Have you felt a void because the state didn't have one? Quinn's ascension to governor notwithstanding, it makes you reconsider all of those people who think the state could survive just fine without the office.
There soon will be new people in the treasurer's and comptroller's offices.
Treasurer ALEXI GIANNOULIAS and Comptroller DAN HYNES have set their sights on other offices. Regardless of the outcome of those elections, they won't be returning to their old jobs.
Theoretically, there could be a new attorney general and secretary of state. There are candidates running against Attorney General LISA MADIGAN and Secretary of State JESSE WHITE. It's awfully hard to imagine either of them being defeated, though.
And there will be a new U.S. senator because ROLAND BURRIS has opted not to run.
Add them up and you have seven positions that are elected statewide. Four of them will definitely have new faces in them. A fifth is within the realm of possibility.
It's going to be an interesting year.
*A lot of columns this time of year offer humorous resolutions for public officials. Some actually are.
However, there really isn't much humor in what's going on with the state right now, so the only resolution we'll offer is that Illinois' politicians will finally do what is necessary to deal with the state's financial mess. The various approaches basically come down to cut the budget, raise taxes or do a combination.
Unfortunately, lawmakers have done none of them to the degree needed to fix things.
If you want to balance the budget through cuts alone, then do it. It's going to cause real pain to real people to do it that way, but once and for all do it.
So far, there's been a series of cuts threatened or made and when the outcry comes (from the public or even lawmakers) they get reversed. You can't keep doing that forever.
And in 2010, we'll hopefully be spared any more of those silly statements about politicians always taking the easy way out and raising taxes. If it was easy, it would have been done by now. The state income tax rate hasn't changed since the surcharge was made permanent in the early 1980s.
Please also spare us the notion that economic growth is going to solve all of the problems. That obviously is important, but economic growth will take time. The budget problem is now and it is huge. It comes back to tax or cut. Suck it up and do it once and for all.
*Republican U.S. Senate candidate ANDY MARTIN was disowned by the state Republican Party last week. It came after he aired a radio ad that talked of the "solid rumor" that U.S. Rep. MARK KIRK is gay.
Kirk is a Republican also running for U.S. Senate. His spokesman issued a statement saying the ad is "not true and is degrading to the political process."
You may not have heard of Martin before. He's unsuccessfully run for several offices. He constantly sends e-mails to the news media, which are mostly ignored. Here's a sample from a recent offering.
"U.S. Senate candidate Andy Martin says BARACK OBAMA is using a web of tax-exempt organizations, sometimes secretly and surreptitiously to implement his socialist agenda in 'Obama's Amerika.' Martin says Wikimedia/Wikipedia is an arm of the 'Obama Smear Machine...'”
Contact Doug Finke at firstname.lastname@example.org.