- M. Spencer Green/AP Photos
- The cuts keep coming.
While I was preoccupied with Chuy Garcia’s race against Mayor Rahm, Governor Rauner fired the opening shots in his crusade against the poor and the infirm.
In short, I was in the middle of a two-front war and I didn’t realize it.
I’m referring to Governor Bruce’s assault on anything remotely resembling a state-funded program for people who’re not as fabulously wealthy as the governor and his top donors.
Rauner’s actions are called the Good Friday cuts because that’s the day on which he announced he was cutting the state budget by $26.1 million.
I’m not sure if he was making some greater theological statement with the timing, but you never know.
Among Rauner’s cuts was $1 million sliced from the Autism Program, which, as the name suggests, provides assistance for people with autism.
As Rauner tells the story, he and his top bean counters spent the better part of his first few months in office going through the $70 billion budget left behind by Governor Quinn in search for cuts to close a $6 billion deficit.
That’s where he spotted the $1 million Quinn was planning to spend helping people with autism.
Quick as a cat, Rauner cut that $1 million.
Now we just got another $5.999 million to go!
In contrast, Governor Rauner approved the $100 million in tax subsidies Quinn had proposed for a handful of businesses in Illinois.
In short, $1 million to help people with autism threatens our state’s financial existence. But $100 million in handouts to corporations brings Illinois closer to prosperity.
Glad we got that straight.
Helping the governor spread this rather unique view of the world are two newly created political action committees.
There’s Turnaround Illinois, which is what Rauner calls his efforts to save the state by, among other things, cutting aid to people with autism.
Turnaround’s biggest donor is Sam Zell, the real estate magnate who’s worth about $5 billion, give or take a million or two.
Zell gave $4 million, a tiny fraction of his worth, to Turnaround Illinois.
Think of it this way . . .
Zell donating $4 million to Turnaround is sort of like me spending $1.50 to buy a copy of the Tribune.
Speaking of which, in a previous lifetime Zell owned the Tribune.
Unfortunately, it went bankrupt on his watch. So I’m not sure why it’s a good idea for Rauner to look to Zell for guidance on how to save our state from financial ruin. But that’s where we are.
In addition, Governor Rauner’s allies have created Illinoisans for Growth and Opportunity, ILGO for short.
Among ILGO’s first donors is Helen Zell—wife of Sam—who chipped in $1 million.
So you might say the whole Zell family’s doing what it can in the fight against those dastardly autism patients.
According to its website, ILGO’s purpose is to “defend Democratic lawmakers who have demonstrated support for the difficult, yet responsible, choices our state government needs.”
Translation: ILGO backs Democrats who support Rauner when he takes money from autism patients and gives it to corporations.
In the name of saving Illinois from financial ruin.
As long as I’m using military analogies, getting Democrats to support Republicans as they cut social programs is sort of like the tactic employed by the Greeks in the Trojan War.
That’s where they packed a bunch of soldiers into a giant wooden horse which the Trojans were dumb enough to roll behind the walls of Troy.
When night came, the Greek soldiers climbed out of the horse and ransacked the city.
The lesson, as Homer might have put it: Beware of Democrats bearing gifts from ILGO.
For the record, I am not now nor have I ever likened Governor Rauner to a Greek general. Just to make that clear.
Here’s an interesting tidbit. The executive director of ILGO is Greg Goldner—who I actually met.
This is true! It was back in 2002, when Greg was managing Rahm Emanuel’s first congressional campaign.
As I recall, Greg graduated from Highland Park High—home of the Little Giants.
I’m sure Little Giants everywhere are bursting with pride to know that one of their own is helping Bruce Rauner in his fight against aiding people with autism.